Public health as an issue in Hong Kong has not been viewed as an important aspect in secondary education. Rarely in the senior secondary curriculum is one exposed to the topics of antimicrobial resistance and mental health in Hong Kong, with the exception of a small subtopic in the subject of Liberal Studies. With the recent rise in mental health crises (due to abrupt changes in the political and social climate) and the constant threat of antimicrobial resistance, it is evident that education is necessary for secondary school students.
In November 2019, AMSAHK collaborated with the Hong Kong Society of Community Medicine to organize the “Workshop for the Next Generation”, focusing on two public health issues in particular: mental health and antimicrobial resistance (as well as outbreak control). With these two priorities of public health introduced to students, we hope that they can develop an understanding of what public health is and inspire them to be future public health professionals.
With the Antimicrobial Resistance/Outbreak Control session, students were divided into groups to roleplay as different stakeholders during an outbreak of an antimicrobial-resistant pathogen. Students thought of the different things that they could do to solve the problem as students, doctors, and public health professionals. They were also educated in the definition and methods to deal with antimicrobial resistance, as well as the steps to approaching a disease outbreak.
Regarding the mental health session, students went through an interactive session on emotional control and mindfulness and were educated on the fact that mental health issues are more common than people think, and that it is not shameful to seek help. Students were also provided the necessary contacts and organizations to seek help in the stressful situations they are in (their studies, as well as the polarizing social division).
The workshop is AMSAHK’s first collaboration with the Hong Kong Society of Community Medicine and was held at the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health at Hong Kong. With support from 7 secondary schools and the organizing committee coming from pharmacy, public health and medicine majors of 2 universities in Hong Kong, we hope that public health awareness and motivation can be promoted. And indeed it has been.
With positive feedback and comments on our workshop, including an increased knowledge regarding the topics of antimicrobial resistance and mental health, as well as an increased perspective regarding public health.
Overall, the activity arched over several hot topics of public health in recent years, and highlighted the intricate and complex relationship that public health has with our personal lives. This is one of the first times SCOPH of AMSAHK has reached out to secondary school students, and future collaborations are being planned to hopefully increase the awareness and knowledge of secondary school students through workshops, campaigns.