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The Community Solution

The Community Solution

Chan Cheuk Kwan Charlotte's Story
Awardee of 24th Recognition Ceremony – Above and Beyond Award
Faculty of Dentistry

In these trying times, mental health is an issue the world can no longer ignore. Early intervention and prevention are vital to tackling youth mental health challenges. The third year Dentistry student Charlotte is a Youth Summit & Youth Ambassador Coordinator and a Steering Committee member of the Hong Kong Mental Health Conference in 2020. The conference consisted of panel discussions, workshops, and talks based on the theme of Resilience, providing resources for young people, parents, and teachers in schools of Hong Kong on how to support one another. She played an essential role in organising the event and sharing her experiences as a young person at the conference. 

Photo of Charlotte at the Summit

Charlotte’s mental health advocacy journey started with her first year off university. Charlotte emphasised the impact of the community has on her and attributes it to her key to success: “What I know now about mental health has been shaped by interacting with those who are closest to me, so it is through that community that I’ve been able to see how important it really is.”  

During her time searching for out-of-classroom opportunities, she came across Mind Hong Kong and her campaign revolving around World Mental Health Day. She got in touch with the staff and started volunteering there. After a few months of volunteering, the organisation started a new initiative called Coolminds, which eventually led her to the conference.  

Photo of Charlotte with colleagues

“Everyone can participate in promoting mental health and contribute to a more compassionate and inclusive society.” 

As a Dental student with no prior experience in Psychology or mental health advocacy, Charlotte expresses great humility in being able to connect and learn from so many experienced professionals in this line of work, and that her time with these mental health organisations has been a refreshing and rewarding opportunity with transferable skills for her academic studies. Through advocacy, she has learned to observe the shortcomings of our city’s healthcare systems in providing mental health support, especially to young people who may lack the resources to seek the help they need.  She also believes in asking questions with respect and modesty when our understanding comes up short and the power of self-directed learning. Everyone can participate in promoting mental health and contribute to a more compassionate and inclusive society. Moreover, Charlotte learned that “mental health is a lot more prevalent than she thought it was. She hoped to be able to use that understanding to interact with the dental community and patients as well.”

In Dentistry, she often interacts with patients during consultations, which is an intrinsically social and personal exchange. It is more than completing a routine or reducing someone to a list of symptoms, but all about understanding another’s needs. She believes that every patient is a human being whose smile has a story behind it and that we should never be too quick to judge anyone. Another important lesson she has learned and plans to apply to her clinical practice is communicating with her teammates, to become a better listener and communicator in the stressful field of dentistry. After her work with these mental health charities, she often feels more energized and excited, with renewed motivation to synergize her knowledge in Dentistry and mental health advocacy.  

To many young people, the pandemic is a crisis that has wreaked havoc upon their mental health, which further highlights the necessity for consciousness about mental health issues. With more students and young people staying home for school, stress and loneliness have become major problems for mental health, underscoring the need for awareness about the effects of mental health and how to deal with them. During the conference, Charlotte, along with the dedicated team she worked with, had to employ greater flexibility, coordination and creativity, to transform the setbacks of the pandemic into opportunities. With pandemic’s quick escalation, they had to readjust the events accordingly by turning them into hybrid events. International speakers could not fly in because of quarantine, so her team had to navigate through time differences and explore more novel solutions for the event. By joining forces with technological experts and utilising informational technology, the event increased in participation. It has become a great chance for young people to connect with one other, especially those who are more introverted and might not otherwise have gone up to a speaker in person.       

More about Charlotte: 

Written by:
Christie Lau
Year 4, Faculty of Arts

Video recorded and produced by:
Chan Tsz Lam  
Year 3, Faculty of Arts 

March 2021

The Community Solution