Ms Doreen Kho's decision to raise awareness of mental illness in children and to confront the pain and agony of her loss by sharing her story with others is courageous (It Changed My Life: 'Help me, Mommy. I'm very lonely'; Feb 4).
Childhood depression often gets overlooked as some of the symptoms, such as anger, acting out and poor academic performance, may be misunderstood as immaturity, tantrums, lack of interest and a lazy attitude towards studies.
The biggest misconception many people have is that children cannot become depressed. It can happen to anyone of any age and background. Symptoms of childhood and adolescent depression vary with developmental age.
Besides parents, other caregivers and school teachers play crucial roles in identifying and detecting depression and signs that may indicate risk of suicide.
After concerns have been raised, referring the child to professional help is necessary. Social stigmas associated with mental illness can be a great obstacle in getting help, and treatment can be delayed as a result. It is important to realise and understand the impact depression can have on the child and on his or her later life.
Awareness, understanding and courage are what we need to help not only our children but also adults who are battling depression.
Celynn Chang (Ms)
Clinical Intervention Centre, Boys' Town