16 in 1,000 primary school pupils required mental health support in 2021, number stable over five years, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

16 in 1,000 primary school pupils required mental health support in 2021, number stable over five years

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About 16 out of every 1,000 primary school pupils required mental health support in 2021.

The number of primary school pupils that were referred to school counsellors for mental health-related issues was stable between 2017 and 2021, said Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Wednesday.

As some of these pupils may require counselling support even after they move on to secondary schools, counsellors engage parents to discuss how such help can be extended in their new school, she added.

There were 232,650 primary school pupils in 2020, according to the latest 2021 edition of the Education Statistics Digest released by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Ms Gan was responding to a question by Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) on whether the number of primary school pupils requiring counselling for mental health issues had risen in the last five years, and how such pupils are managed as they transition into secondary school and beyond.

With the parents' consent, information such as the strategies to support the child and his or her challenges will be shared with the receiving school, she said.

Such information will be managed sensitively and will only be shared on a need-to-know basis, she added.

Mr Darryl asked how such information is shared beyond MOE with other government agencies, for example whether the Ministry of Defence would have access to the information when a male student who needed mental health care during his time as a student enlisted for national service.

Ms Gan said the ministry is very concerned about the continuity of mental health care and support for young people, while balancing the need for medical confidentiality.

MOE is involved in the inter-agency task force for mental health and well-being on how best to do so, she added.

"We are discussing in great depth on how we can provide continuous care, as well as to do so in a manner that respects the need for medical confidentiality, and also to respect the wishes of individuals as well as their parents," she said.