Counsellors

Published Date: 05 April 2021 05:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Seah Kian Peng, Marine Parade GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what is the current ratio of counsellors to students in each of the institutes of higher learning including Singapore Institute of Technology and Yale-NUS College; (b) how does this compare with ratio of counsellors in the public health sector to the general population; and (c) whether young people in our universities have greater access to mental health professionals as compared to the general population.

Response

MOE and the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are committed to supporting our students' mental well-being and strengthening individual resilience. The IHLs each ensure an ecosystem of mental health support for students, which aim to both equip students with basic knowledge of mental well-being through programmes on mental wellness literacy and awareness, and establishing support structures to meet students' mental health needs.

2 As a first line of support, academic staff are trained to identify signs of distress in their students, monitor their well-being, and provide guidance and support. All IHLs also have peer support programmes where selected students are trained to look out for and provide support to their peers.

3 For students who need additional help, they can tap on the team of counsellors in each IHL, for socio-emotional and counselling support. Each polytechnic and ITE college has four to seven counsellors. The Autonomous Universities, including the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and National University of Singapore (NUS), are similarly equipped with counsellors according to their size and student profile. The IHLs regularly review their counselling provisions, taking into consideration the demand for counselling support. The counsellors are further complemented by a pool of para-counsellors who are academic or non-academic staff with advanced training in counselling. In addition to campus-based provisions, IHL students may choose to tap on alternative avenues of support and resources, such as Social Service Agencies in the community.

4 Finally, for students who require further professional assessment and intervention, the IHL counsellors will refer them to mental health professionals, either in the community, such as the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), or the public healthcare system, to render additional support.

5 MOE works closely with other government agencies to ensure a system of comprehensive support for IHL students, on- and off-campus. It would not be meaningful to compare the on-campus resourcing for mental health with that for the general population, as they are intended to be complementary.

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