How schools, parents can support kids’ mental health
Schools can help young people with poor mental health become more resilient in coping with stress.
Madam Choy Wai Yin, director of Ministry of Education's guidance branch at the student development curriculum division, said: "Students' mental health and emotional well-being are key priorities of MOE."
She added: "Our students learn a range of social and emotional skills through the Form Teacher Guidance Period and Character and Citizenship Education lessons in primary and secondary schools."
Teachers and counsellors look out for and support students displaying signs of distress, such as mood swings and anxiety. They could be referred to medical professionals.
Dr Lim Choon Guan, senior consultant and deputy chief at the Institute of Mental Health's department of developmental psychiatry, advised parents to seek professional help if their child's behaviour changes significantly.
Signs to look out for include the child becoming withdrawn, losing interest in activities he used to enjoy and refusing to attend school.
He added that parents should also notice when their children express abnormal and negative thoughts like suicide.
"When seeking help from a mental health professional, parents should not push their children too hard, even during counselling," he said.
"While it helps for children to share their problems, we also need to give them the time and space. Engaging and earning their trust takes time."
Dr Lim said teachers and parents could give additional assignments without realising the children have other tasks.
When children are over-stretched, they tend to get easily upset, frustrated and may give up, he added.
"I personally use the 3:1 rule: For every three learning or studying activities, there should be time reserved for fun activities."
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