Mental wellness and resilience training for students

Published Date: 19 November 2018 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, Marine Parade GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether there can be a more comprehensive and widespread incorporation of mental wellness and resilience training for students from primary and secondary schools; and (b) what are the roles of staff in the Psychology Division of the Ministry.

Response

1. Mental health is a global issue and internationally the figures are on the rise. The World Health Organisation projects that mental illness will account for 15% of global disease burden by 2020, up from 12% in the early 2000s, with young people in particular being susceptible.

2. The factors affecting mental health are many and varied. Hence the issue needs to be addressed on different fronts by different parties working together. For young people their main environments are home and school. Support from parents plays a big part as well as support from educators, peers and professional counsellors.

3. On its part, MOE has stepped up efforts to support the mental well-being of students in our schools.

4. To build mental wellness and resilience among the students in general we have been strengthening social-emotional learning through lessons and co-curricular programmes from Primary to Junior College. These include emotional regulation, perspective taking, impulse control, problem solving and various coping strategies. Health Promotion Board and other community agencies also organise mental health awareness talks and exhibitions for our students.

5. To ensure that students with mental health issues have access to help, we have introduced at least one school counsellor in every school. Our school counsellors provide emotional support to students in distress, help them explore different perspectives and develop strategies to manage their personal, social and emotional issues. Where necessary, they will engage parents and work with relevant external agencies to strengthen the support net for the students.

6. Teachers are also equipped to identify signs of distress in their students and check on their well-being. When any student needs professional intervention, the teachers will refer them to the school counsellor.

7. The Health Promotion Board provides mental health awareness briefings and resources for teachers and school counsellors annually. These enhance their understanding of mental health issues, its impact on students as well as provide strategies on how to support students better.

8. Recognising that peer support also plays an important role as students typically turn to friends and peers when they have issues, we have in recent years been promoting peer support among students in all schools. The peer support programme encourages help-seeking behaviour, reduces stigmatisation of mental illnesses, and helps students to identify friends who are in distress for support.

9. Professionals from a number of MOE Divisions work together to support the entire system from a mental health perspective. The educational psychologists and specialists design curriculum, programmes and resources, as well as conduct training and consultation for school personnel to implement the relevant programmes. The educational psychologists also provide assessment, case consultation and other specialised services to students with special educational needs. Where necessary, MOE will engage external expertise, including the mental health professionals and relevant social service agencies.

10. While schools can assist to the extent that the students are in school, support in the home environment and from parents is crucial as that is central to the students’ lives. We have stepped up our engagement with parents to raise their awareness so that they can better understand and support the mental health needs of their children, and also provide them with information on where they can seek specialised help if needed.

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