Research Scope

The JC JoyAge Project developed and tested an innovative stepped-care model tailored to promote collaboration between mental health care and active aging services to support older adults at risk of depression or suffering from mild to moderate levels of depressive symptoms. The HKU research team implemented a quasi-experimental study with 3,662 older adults in the intervention group and 503 older adults in the control group to study the effectiveness of this stepped-care model. The findings are very promising with the intervention group, undergoing JC JoyAge service, is 5.74 times more effective in depression prevention and 3.55 times more effective in depression treatment than the control group, undergoing service as usual. The stepped care model is also cost-effective as every dollar invested in the JC JoyAge Project saved HK$2.14 for the local healthcare system, and at the same time, created HK$3.10 to HK$3.25 social value in the society

The research team also studied the development and effects of the peer-supporter (PS) program on peer supporters’ mental health. 248 PS were recruited, 221 (89%) completed the training and provided services to the clients. Pre-post analyses revealed that PS had significant improvement on elderly mental health knowledge, satisfaction with life, and the presence of meaning in life, and maintained in quality of life and social networking. A further qualitative inquiry into the PS experiences revealed that the peer supporter-service recipient relationship was centred in four areas: 1. engagement through health and age-related lived experiences; 2. hopes and actions against the undesirable outcomes of aging; 3. companionship, social and emotional ties beyond conventional support to older adults; and, 4. finding meaningful roles to facilitate service recipients’ functional ability. Being a PS is also beneficial as it might prevent the potential adverse effects of aging and enable community-dwelling older adults with depression to maintain functional ability.
In phase II (2020-2023), the research team will focus on five innovative research areas:
  1. To develop and evaluate a community based participatory model to promote mental health literacy and reduce mental health stigma among older people in Hong Kong.
  2. To develop evidence-based interventions for technology enhanced psycho-counselling among older people in Hong Kong.
  3. To develop and evaluate evidence based post-suicide community intervention model for local community;
  4. To develop and evaluate evidence based mental health interventions based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); Integrated Family and Systems Treatment (I-FAST) and Mindfulness based therapy with older adults with mental health challenges.
  5. To develop and evaluate a localized mental wellness recovery strategy for older people at risk or suffering from depression in Hong Kong.