WeCare Fund for Student-Initiated Youth Suicide Prevention Project (the project) is the very first cross-institutional student initiated suicide prevention project conducted by The Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (the Centre). The Fund aims to encourage students, with the support of professional advisors, to organise, initiate, and implement mental health related projects at university campuses, and through the projects to nurture positive emotions at campuses and to enhance awareness of mental health issues among youths. Supported by Mr Lau Ming Wai, Chairman of the Commission on Youth, the project had invited applications from students and tertiary institutions from June to August in 2016. Fourteen selected projects at 10 tertiary institutions were funded and completed by December 2016. An award ceremony was held today (March 9). The champion, first runner-up and second runner-up of the Best Practice Award received HK$50,000, HK$30,000, and HK$20,000 respectively for continuation and expansion of their projects.
Champion, First runner-up and Second runner-up of Best Practice Award
The champion was the “Shall we talk” team, a group of youngsters passionate in drama from Hong Kong Baptist University. They expressed their concerns over issues regarding suicide through a self-directed play, written with an aim to inspire audience to reflect on their roles in suicide prevention, as well as deliver the message of treasuring life and emphasise the importance of communication. The whole drama consisted of three stories: the first story explored the causes of suicide and the roles of different stakeholders in society in suicide prevention; the second story highlighted the need to seize the opportunity to care for people around and not to miss their signs for help; the third story encouraged open and honest communication among people and spread hope for the future. The team held three performances at a Black Box Theatre, which were all very well received with over 100 audience attending each time. After each performance, the actors and scriptwriter were engaged in a dialogue with audience to exchange views and feelings. The Centre’s review committee agreed that using stories and drama as a medium to raise public awareness and encourage discussion on suicide prevention is more appealing to the youth, in terms of arousing interest and building emotional connection, as compared to traditional methods such as writing column articles or holding exhibitions. The project is therefore worth to be sustained and promoted so as to reach out to more students at different institutions.
The first runner-up was the「心晴」team (literally “shining heart”) from the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK). Their project targeted students living in residence halls. According to the team’s observation, students at the university have been busy with academic work, lectures and placements, and since around one-third of the students are staying in residence halls, reaching out to this group should be the most direct and effective way. The team prepared greeting cards, stationeries and souvenirs printed with words of encouragement and contact information for counselling services at the Student Affairs Office, for distribution at dormitories and on university campus. Resident tutors also took the opportunity to chat with students when giving out the greeting cards and small gifts. In addition, a stress relief workshop utilising the expressive arts was held for hall students. It was scheduled in the evening after classes to allow more students to attend. EdUHK students are future teachers in society. Their mental wellbeing as well as their awareness of the importance of it should be of paramount importance, as they will be given the responsibility to take care of the physical and mental health of their students and spread positive messages to them. Therefore, the Centre’s review committee was of the view that the project should be made sustainable to benefit more teachers under training.
The second runner-up was the “Game of Tones: You matter, we care” team from Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The team composed of non-local research postgraduate students at the university. They formed the team out of a sad experience in the past regarding a hall student suicide case, and hope to promote mental health awareness, reduce stigma on mental illness and encourage those in need to seek help. Activities held included “Rap in the dark” rapping workshop, “Kick it out” boxing experience, and progressive muscle relaxation training and meditation. Participants could relieve their emotions and stress through music, exercises, and different relaxation techniques. Post-activity evaluation on participants’ mental health knowledge and their help-seeking attitude revealed a general improvement in knowledge and a more positive attitude towards seeking emotional support from professionals. The Centre’s review committee expressed in particular appreciation for the non-local student members who have dedicated themselves to care about the mental wellbeing of all students in the university. Their work can fill the gap of existing services to cater also for the need of non-local students to help them adapt to the new environment in Hong Kong and cope with academic stress.
Care and Communications are the keys
The ceremony provided an opportunity for the organiser to express appreciation to the participants to thank them for their support of the WeCare Fund and in promoting proactively suicide prevention. The Centre thanked each participant and institution, in particular staff members of the student affairs offices and professional advisors, for their time and effort.
Mr Lau Ming Wai, sponsor of the project and the guest of honour at the ceremony, was encouraged to see so many students and institutions participated in the event. He expressed his appreciation towards the creativity and strength demonstrated by the youngsters in these projects. They were able to design a mobile app, perform a play, or implement a peer counsellor scheme within a short three months’ time. Mr Lau was confident that these projects would bring new ideas to inspire future suicide prevention work.
Professor Paul Yip, Director of the Centre, said the fourteen student-initiated projects had rightly placed an emphasis on the importance of connection and communication among people, through social media or in person to express care. He urged the students to take one step further to continue to show care and be the guardian angels of their peers.
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《與你同行》資助計劃 – 由學生主導的防止青年自殺計劃（以下簡稱「本計劃」）是香港大學香港賽馬會防止自殺研究中心（以下簡稱「中心」）首個跨院校及由學生主導的防止自殺計劃，目的是協助學生於大學校園內去發起、組織及開展與精神健康相關的活動，配合專業人員指導，培養校園内的積極情緒，及加強青年大眾對精神健康的關注。整個計劃由青年事務委員會主席劉鳴煒先生贊助，在2016年6月至8月接受本港各大學及專上學院學生申請，最後受資助的計劃共14個，分別來自10間大學／大專院校。所有計劃已於2016年12月圓滿結束，並於今天（3月9日星期四）舉行了頒獎典禮，頒發「卓越實踐計劃獎」的冠軍、亞軍及季軍，得獎計劃會分別獲得港幣5萬元、3萬元及2萬元的額外資金用作維持和擴展其計劃。
冠軍的得主為香港浸會大學的Shall we talk團隊，他們都是一群熱愛戲劇的年青人，通過表演自行編寫的劇目，表達對自殺議題的關注，讓觀眾反思個人在預防自殺的角色，並帶出珍惜生命及溝通的重要性。整個劇目由三個故事組成，第一個故事探討自殺的成因及社會上不同的持份者在自殺事件中擔當的角色；第二個故事提出要把握關心身邊人的機會，別錯過他們的求助訊號；第三個故事鼓勵人與人之間互相溝通、坦誠表達及要對明天抱有希望。他們在一個黑盒劇場共表演了三場，每場都超過一百名觀眾入場，反應十分理想。每場表演完結後，演員及編劇都會與觀眾互動，解釋創作理念及共同探討對故事的感受。評審團認為透過故事及話劇形式，以軟性的手法引起大眾對自殺課題的關心及討論，比起通過傳統的模式，例如文章或展覽更貼近年輕人的興趣，亦可推廣至不同的院校，接觸更多的學生，值得延續。
季軍的得獎者為香港理工大學的Game of tones: You matter, we care團隊。團隊成員都是香港理工大學的非本地研究生，他們參與本計劃的起因是過去有宿生在他們所居住的學生宿舍自殺身亡，故此希望透過此計劃出一分力，提高同學對精神健康的關注、減低對心理疾患的負面標籤及鼓勵有需要的同學尋求協助。他們的計劃內容包括舉辦饒舌工作坊(Rap in the dark)、拳擊體驗(Kick it out)、漸進式肌肉放鬆法(Progressive muscle relaxation)及冥想(meditation)訓練，讓參加者可以透過音樂、運動及不同的放鬆技巧紓緩自己的情緒，減輕壓力。根據他們所作的成效研究，以不同的量表量度參加者對精神健康的認知及求助態度可見，參加者在參與計劃活動後，對精神健康的認知有所增加，亦對尋求專業人士協助處理情緒問題採取更正面的態度。評審團特別欣賞團隊成員作為非本地學生，都積極關注所有同學的身心健康，並留意到非本地研究生要適應香港的生活及應付學業的壓力，填補了服務上的空缺。