More families in Macao are turning to support services for help as the city continues to suffer financial problems brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sheng Kung Hui (SKH) Macau Social Services Centre reported 1,092 cases of counselling related to family support last year, with an increase of 10 to 15 per cent over the previous year, and estimated that cases will increase further this year.
SKH Macau Social Services Coordination Office Service Coordinator Ip Kam Po said that last year’s cases mainly involved emotional disturbances such as communication between family members, marital relationships, child care and education, five per cent of them involving family conflict and suspected domestic violence.
Ip suggested that parents should give more recognition and appreciation to their children to help them cope with stress, which may be due to parents neglecting their children’s emotional needs and focusing too much on their academic performance.
Ip said that the government should also focus more on strengthening parenting education and family counselling for young families, as financial and livelihood pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic may intensify the conflicts between family members.
The centre also released the findings of a survey on the impact of mobile phone use on family relationships. The findings revealed that 37 per cent of parents use their mobile phones “very often” when spending time with their children, while 50 per cent said they felt that their spouse spent more time on the phone than on them when having meals together.
The survey was conducted by the centre’s social workers through questionnaires in 2019. Ip said the findings show the importance of a family spending quality time together. Ip pointed out that the negative emotions that accumulate over time can affect parent-child relationships if family members continue to feel left out and unable to communicate positively with each other.
The centre also announced the operation of a paid counselling service led by the centre’s senior counsellors, which aims to provide face-to-face counselling to those suffering from mental health issues or parent-child relationship problems to help those undergoing counselling release their emotional distress.
A 90-minute initial counselling assessment will cost MOP 450. Face-to-face counselling lasting 50 minutes will also cost MOP 450 each time, The Macau Post Daily reported.
Sheng Kung Hui (聖公會) is the Cantonese name for the Anglican Church.