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The backstory: Hong Kong faces significant challenges in mental health within the workplace. According to Mind HK, a mental health charity in the city, this stems from things like inadequate physical and mental space, limited break opportunities, low job security and tense workplace cultures. To add to all this, Hong Kong has one of the world's longest working hours at 51.1 hours per week and 39% working overtime. One in four Hong Kong workers experiences symptoms of depression and anxiety, surpassing the global average by 2.5 times.
But 73% are unaware of employer-provided mental health support, according to Mind HK. A study by insurance provider Cigna Group found that about 66% of residents have said that they want their employers to offer more support to lead healthier lives.
The development: The Cheng family in Hong Kong is associated with one of the city's prominent business conglomerates, the New World Development Company Limited. Today, it’s run by the third generation of the family and has become a diversified conglomerate with its fingers dipped in many pies, from property to hotels and services.
Now, the property arm of the Cheng family’s conglomerate, New World Development Co., is launching a pilot program that initially includes courses addressing topics such as identifying colleagues in need and managing mental health for managers and senior execs. The company plans to formulate a long-term strategy based on data collected during this initial phase. On top of all this, it will also introduce mental health first responders on a voluntary basis. These responders, drawn from different departments and levels, will undergo a two-day intensive training period, with the aim to help them get an advanced understanding of mental health issues. Their role involves directing employees in need to various resources for support. With this, some say that New World could set a benchmark for other companies in the city to prioritize mental health at work.
“There’s a certain level of competition among Hong Kong’s big families … others may not want to be left behind,” explained Henry Chan, training manager for mental health charity Mind HK.
"People leaders in most companies over the last three years have learned that people's private lives and their personal mental health and wellbeing do have material impacts on how the person operates, engages and performs at work," said Michael Long, head of sustainability at New World Development.
"Our employees are our valuable assets and their health and well-being always come first. We promote workplace wellness by providing physical and virtual programmes for employees," writes New World Group on its website.