'Nowhere Girls' – Sunk in Depression?
On 'Promotion of Mental Health'

Recently, a controversial TV reality show featured the 'make-over' of several 'Mei Nü's' (沒女, or 'Nowhere girls') (meaning those women who lack an attractive appearance, body figure, youth, well-off family background, and accomplishment). With the advice from gurus, they were helped to transform into 'hotties'.


Leaving aside the issue of distorted values and the associated profit-making opportunities that the show created (e.g. 'it is necessary to spend huge sums on beauty services in exchange for good looks and figures', 'good looks and figures can help you get love and attention'), what's more worth discussing here is that the reason why these Mei Nü's are getting nowhere in their lives ---- they are probably suffering from some mental health issues which remained unrecognized, but instead are being labeled as 'lazy' or 'giving up on life'. This lack of awareness of the red flags of mental health issues would hinder these people from seeking appropriate help, making them stuck deeper into their own issues.


According to the description on the show's website, one of the participants Cat was being dumped by her boyfriend 3 years ago. Since then, she became withdrawn and stayed home to cry all day, she even quit her job, lost energy, put on a lot of weight, and relied on her mother to maintain her living. Cat even indicated that 'No man would want me!'. In fact, the above short description already makes us worried about whether the participant was suffering from symptoms of a major depressive disorder!


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition (DSM5) by the American Psychiatric Association stated that if a person has 5 or more of the following symptoms continuously for more than 2 weeks, it could be indicative of major depressive disorder:

  • Persistent sad, or irritable mood (just like Cat who cried all day)
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable (just like Cat who remained withdrawn at home and quit her job)
  • Overeating or appetite loss, leading to weight gain or loss (just like Cat who put on a lot of weight)
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Slowed movements, or restlessness
  • Fatigue and decreased energy (just like Cat who became less energetic)
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness, hopelessness and/or pessimism (just like Cat who reckoned that no other man would want her after being dumped by a man)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts


Not every person can survive through the all-time low of depression. Studies had shown that approximately 15% of people with depression would commit suicide (just as the late actor and comedian Robin Williams who committed suicide recently as a result of his depression). Worthy of note for teenagers is that, according to the report 'Health for the World's Adolescents - A second chance in the second decade' by World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014, depression has become the top cause of illness and disability, and suicide now ranks third among the causes of death during adolescence. The report also points out that as many as half of all mental health disorders start by age 14, but most cases go unrecognized and untreated, with serious consequences for mental health throughout life.


So Teens, be more aware of the mental health of yourself and people around you. Never ignore red flags of depression, or simply label people as 'lazy' or 'giving up on life', and miss the opportunities to early intervention!



American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

World Health Organization (2014). Health for the World’s Adolescents - A second chance in the second decade. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112750/1/WHO_FWC_MCA_14.05_eng.pdf?ua=1