Peer support for parents, children can de-stigmatize mental health help-seeking: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – Stress is now a way of life, and having more open and supportive conversations about mental health can help remove the stigma of seeking help for children or parents who are struggling to cope, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

Speaking to parents and school staff on the Zoom video conferencing platform on Saturday March 26, the Minister said: “I think we all understand that the demands of a rapidly changing and rapidly changing world are enormous for all of us.Demands have increased, expectations have increased.

“It’s actually not possible…and not realistic for us to expect to live in a stress-free environment.”

He called on Parent Support Groups (PSGs) to help move the mental health conversation forward by sharing their own experiences and offering support to other parents, in the same way that students can rely on a system of peer support.

PSGs are groups of volunteer parents who wish to play a more active role in the education of their children. Each school has its own dedicated support group.

Mr Chan was speaking at an engagement session with more than 700 PSG leaders and representatives of primary and secondary schools as well as colleges.

The Minister said it was important not to think of mental health in binary terms.

“There’s no such thing as ‘I’m absolutely not fine’, ‘I’m absolutely fine’ – we’re all just in between the two extremes…

He encouraged the mindset: “If I’m not well today, I can ask for help. Maybe I can strengthen myself through various self-coping mechanisms that I learned. , then tomorrow will be better.”

State Minister for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling, who also attended the session, reassured parents who might fear that their children will tarnish their record if they come to talk about health issues. mental illness with a counselor or psychiatrist. .

“We will consider student concerns and see how we involve parents in the process.”

During the session, the Ministry of Education (MOE) also launched a PSG guide compiling experiences, tips and learning points from 25 PSGs, as well as a list of experts that parent volunteers can call on. according to their needs.

She added that the Health Promotion Board’s ongoing mental health campaign, It’s Okay To Reach Out, aims to assure all segments of the population that there are channels of help available.

“What’s important is that you reach out and there are appropriate channels to ask for help,” Ms Sun said.

Mr Chan said: “The question is: how do we navigate this more stressful environment, both for our children and our parents… so that we can all grow together?

“I would just like to step aside and remind us to reflect and reflect: what does it mean for us to define success for our children, and perhaps even for ourselves?”

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