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The positive effects of online mindfulness-based intervention for Hong Kong people with emotional distress due to Covid-19


Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many Hong Kong community residents manifest anxiety and depressive symptoms, but the majority of individuals with anxiety and depressive symptoms are resistance to receive assessment and treatment from traditional face-to-face mental health service due to various barriers including stigma and local social-distancing precautionary measures.


In response to this service need, this study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an indigenized guided online Mindfulness-based Intervention (MBI) with accessibility at any time and place to overcome these barriers.

Research Design

A multisite randomized waitlisted controlled trial is adopted in this study. 420 participants with anxiety and/or depressive symptoms, recruiting from multiple-site social service units provided by different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are randomly assigned to treatment or waitlist control group. In addition to treatment as usual (TAU) provided by the NGOs, each treatment group participant will receive a 10-module online MBI for participants to learn MBI at home via internet or mobile phone over a 10-week period. Additionally, two half-day face-to-face workshops on MBI will be held to enhance participants’ learning and practice of MBI. Each waitlist control group participant will receive TAU provided by the NGOs at an initial stage and the same online MBI at a later stage. Outcome measurement of participants will be assessed by standardized assessment tools at the baseline, post-treatment, 3-month and 6-month follow up periods by research assistants who are blind to the group assignment of the participants. An incentive payment in form of ParknShop coupon with the amount of HK$200 will be given to each participant after completing all the assessment.


The indigenized guided online MBI is effective on producing positive outcomes, including the reduction of anxiety and depressive symptoms, for participants; and the positive outcomes can be maintained up to 6 months after completion of the guided online MBI.

Trans-disciplinary collaboration with different professionals and institutions

PC and Co-PI (A), have developed expertise on mental health counseling and are responsible for the overall research design and development of the indigenized guided online MBI. Experts on online interventions and online MBI, including Prof. Carlbring, Department of Psychology Stockholm University Sweden, and Prof. S.M. Ng of Hong Kong University, becomes Co-PIs and will advise the content of the indigenized guided online MBI. Local NGOs and a counselling centre will assist in promotion, referring potential participants, and/or providing counseling services for those participants referred by this project.

Required skills

Knowledge on designing animation is preferable.

Principal Investigator


Dr. Young

Dr. Daniel Young

Associate Professor, Department of Social Work




Dr. Ng

Prof. Petrus Ng

Head and Professor, Department of Social Work