Action needed to curb unnecessary stress

Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) students attending a class in a classroom in the Hwa Chong clock tower.
Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) students attending a class in a classroom in the Hwa Chong clock tower. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The recent cases of youth suicides are appalling yet are also evidence of the unnecessary stress placed on students by parents and teachers ("Death of boy who fell 17 floors ruled a suicide"; last Saturday, and "Schools step up focus on students' mental health"; Oct 10).

While some stress can help motivate students, too much of it can be detrimental.

Students may develop a fear of having to face the music, such as caning and berating, when they fail to do well in their studies.

A tendency by parents and even students themselves to compare results may also have a negative impact, causing students to feel not up to par.

In an Asian society where "face" is seen to be important, those who perform badly in their studies may face pressure and humiliation.

Urgent action needs to be taken to stem the problem of youth suicide.


  • Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

    Tinkle Friend (for primary school-aged children): 1800-274-4788

    Singapore Association For Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

    Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

    Institute Of Mental Health's Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222

    Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

The Ministry of Education and schools should constantly remind their staff not to place unnecessary stress on students. They can also conduct talks to raise awareness of this issue, as well as train more counsellors and students who can step in to help those affected.

Parents and teachers should encourage their children, rather than chide them for performing poorly, and talk to them when they are stressed.

Students should learn not to internalise too much negativity regarding their poor academic performance, and instead, use it as motivation to perform better in future.

They also have to learn to seek help when they can no longer handle the stress, rather than suffer in silence.

Ultimately, there has to be an understanding that academic performance, though integral, does not form a complete part of life. Things such as values and character should take priority.

Lee Song Yang, 17,

first-year junior college student

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Action needed to curb unnecessary stress'. Print Edition | Subscribe