Why Hongkongers are among the most stressed in the world

Why Hongkongers are among the most stressed in the world

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Hong Kong ranked behind the global average in a wellbeing survey, which includes physical, social, work, financial, and social wellbeing.

While overall wellbeing in Hong Kong has remained steady between December 2020 and April 2021 (from 56.7 to 56.8), it is lower than the global average point of 61.3. It also has one of the lower levels of wellbeing of the 21 markets surveyed, aside from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. Hong Kong compares unfavourably with its global counterparts in all areas, including physical, social, work, finance, and family wellbeing.

This is according to Cigna's 360 wellbeing survey, which took views from over 18 000 people around the world to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on people's wellbeing including virtual health, whole health, resilience, and remote work. 

Here are the top three stress factors affecting people's wellbeing in Hong Kong.

Financial insecurity 

At the top of the list of stressors for people in Hong Kong - finances, even though the financial wellbeing index did improve slightly from 50.0 in December 2020 to 51.3 in April 2021. Only 16% of respondents said their current financial situation is positive (from 15% in December 2020).

People continue to feel insecure financially and are more pessimistic about their finances, with only 19% of respondents saying they can maintain their current standard of living (a small improvement from 15% in December 2020), while the global average significantly increased to 28% in April 2021. Only 14% of people said they have the financial ability to meet their own or their family’s medical needs (from 12% in December 2020).

The concern on the ability to pay for housing has decreased from 20% in December 2020 to 16% in April 2021. However, the majority of respondents still have a negative outlook on the economic environment and its impact on their financial situation and planning, with only 14% of respondents feeling optimistic (from 13% in December 2020).

The majority also revealed that they felt financially insecure, only 17% of respondents were positive about their financial situation in case of emergencies or if they are unable to work (a decrease from 18% in December 2020), and only 12% of respondents said they have sufficient money for retirement (a small increase from 11% in December 2020).

ALSO READ: The HR guide to managing mental health in (and even out of) challenging times

Mental health impacts overall health 

Hong Kong still has one of the higher stress levels across the markets surveyed, with unmanageable stress levels raised to 18% in April 2021 (from 14% in December 2020). More than three-quarters (88%) of respondents claim to be stressed, making it ranked the sixth-highest among the 21 markets surveyed, and higher than the global average of 83%.

Uncertainty about the future continues to be a key stress contributor, with almost half (48%) of respondents attributing this as the cause of their stress in April 2021. With the increased vaccination rate in Hong Kong, the stress in contracting COVID-19 has significantly dropped to 22% (from 35% in December 2020).

With a high stress level among Hongkongers, the ability to handle stress has become paramount. More than half (52%) of Hong Kong respondents rated mental health as a very important influence on personal health and wellbeing, which was ranked just below physical health (57%). Awareness of mental health is a key concern during the pandemic, which was ranked as an important aspect that influences health and wellbeing.

Work stress and lack of employers’ support

Stress around job insecurity has increased from 14% in December 2020 to 19% in April 2021, and more than half (52%) of the respondents said they have work-related stress. However, mental health support from employers does not meet employees’ expectations, with 35% of respondents expecting more support from their employer, while 35% of respondents expecting enhanced health insurance coverage.

Just under half (44%) of Hong Kong respondents said they have a good work-life balance, and 40% said their workload and working hours are reasonable (improved from 35% in December 2020).

Under the new normal, there has been an increased desire to work from home. More than a third (38%) of office-based workers preferred working from home full-time, and ranked saving their time spent on the commute (17%), saving money (15%), and feeling safer (13%) as the top benefits for working from home.

ALSO READ: Why employers may benefit from focusing on mental health

Photo / 123RF

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