The dinner kicked off with an opening address by A/Prof John Wong, Centre Director for the Mind-Science Centre and the Lin Jo Yan and Yeo Boon Khim Professor in Mental Health and Neuroscience, followed by a Chinese Banquet prepared by Hua Ting Restaurant. A/Prof Kato began the evening with an introduction to Hikikomori, with specific focus on the hidden youth – a syndrome evolving around late adolescents and young adults who have presenting symptoms of social withdrawal, isolation, depression, social anxiety with psychosocial impairment, internet gaming and/or social media addiction.
The term Hikikomori may have originated in Japan but the syndrome has also become prevalent in other Asian countries. Such hidden youth often have lower levels of resilience and can often feel overwhelmed when thrust into high-pressured working environments leading to withdrawal, loneliness and depression. So how can we help our children develop the skills needed to not only survive but also thrive in a turbulent, unpredictable world?