Pandemic Minds

COVID-19 and Mental Health in Hong Kong


Kate Whitehead

ISBN : 978-988-8842-89-6

Mental Health / Public Health

April 2024

244 pages, 6″ x 9″, 41 color illus.

  • HK$195.00

The COVID-19 pandemic was a global crisis that affected millions of lives and brought mental health challenges to the forefront. In Hong Kong, the situation was worsened by uniquely strict COVID-19 regulations, quarantine measures, and travel restrictions. The mental health issues associated with the pandemic did not end with the lifting of the mask mandate. On the contrary, the repercussions are only just beginning to surface and their impact will be felt for years to come.

This eye-opening book tells the stories of ordinary Hongkongers who faced extraordinary challenges during the pandemic. Through a blend of first-person accounts, psychological insights, and hard data, it offers a compelling and accessible exploration of the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on mental health in Hong Kong.

However, this book is not only a chronicle of suffering; it is also a guide to healing and hope. It offers practical advice on how to overcome the mental health issues caused by the pandemic, and how to build resilience and well-being. It reveals the lessons that can be learned from Hong Kong’s experience, and how they can help individuals and policymakers around the world.

Kate Whitehead is an award-winning journalist and qualified psychotherapist based in Hong Kong. 

‘The almost three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for many, especially amongst low-income families. We are still suffering from the long COVID of mental health. Mental wellness of the population during COVID-19, particularly amongst those who had been quarantined, was overlooked by authorities. Pandemic Minds provides many insights to prevent repeating mistakes again.’

Paul S.F. Yip, director, Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong

Pandemic Minds is a vital and telling book, with moving stories of the huge impact of COVID-19 on people in Hong Kong. This book also offers the prospect of a silver lining from this collective disaster, namely that it is now more possible to speak about mental health problems, and that COVID-19 may in fact have helped to reduce mental health stigma.’

Sir Graham Thornicroft, professor of community psychiatry, King’s College London

‘A thoughtful and well-researched account of the many different facets of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong. Kate Whitehead’s engaging narrative and case studies bring back to life memories of a time that challenged the mental health and well-being of so many of us and will help us all to reflect upon and learn from the experiences that we shared.’

Hannah Reidy, clinical psychologist

Pandemic Minds is a poignant and insightful exploration into the global health crisis that has touched every aspect of our lives. Kate Whitehead skilfully navigates through diverse and compelling narratives, spanning from the isolation of quarantine to the unique challenges faced by frontline health workers. Each chapter, such as the deeply personal stories of pregnant women and the struggles of migrant workers, paints a vivid picture of the pandemic’s multifaceted effects on our lives. Pandemic Minds does more than just recount experiences; it delves into the profound psychological aftermath of the pandemic—how it has reshaped our understanding of community and mental health care. 

This book is not just a collection of pandemic stories; it’s an essential blueprint for anyone committed to the cause of mental health in a post-pandemic world. Pandemic Minds is a must-read that will resonate with readers long after the last page is turned.’

Candice Powell, CEO, Mind HK

‘The Hong Kong COVID-19 response was characterised by a top-down, disease-based approach with little thought given to psychological and social well-being. The power of this book lies in the individual narratives. I would encourage anyone with an interest in those times to take a walk in some other Hong Kong shoes.’

David Owens, honorary clinical assistant professor in family medicine, University of Hong Kong