“There’s no health without mental health”
– World Health Organisation
Hong Kong can feel like a pressure-cooker for those at the grassroots. When rents are high, work hours are long, and there are both children and elderly parents to worry about, self-care and preserving mental health fall to the bottom of the list. Recent figures suggest that more than 13% of Hong Kongers suffer with depression and/or anxiety. Sometimes, all that’s needed to take the first step towards healing is a pair of hands reaching out to say, ‘you are not alone’.
Such is the story of Smiling Heart, which started with one woman battling depression. Volunteers visiting her from Tung Wah group of hospitals noticed she had a creative way to find sunshine through the storm clouds in her life: making handmade jewellery. She told them her depression made it difficult to leave the house and interact with others, but she wanted to keep occupied at home, and create something beautiful.
The Tung Wah volunteers loved her idea and knew it could help others living with mental illnesses. With a little encouragement, the woman agreed to teach other people the skill that had brought light to her own life.
To begin with, she held a workshop for just 2-3 women. Her confidence grew, and so did her sense of self-worth.
From there, the project snowballed into Smiling Heart, a registered NGO which today helps many women battling mental illness by offering a place to learn something new, find friendship, and grow stronger together.
Now, they don’t just make jewellery, but also handmade ornaments, magnets and accessories.
They’ve been popular products in our Global Handicrafts shop, where we have sold Smiling Heart handicrafts since 2016.