Forum: Supporting family unit is key to youth mental health as well

Like most people in Singapore, I am deeply saddened by the recent River Valley High School incident, in which a student was allegedly killed by another.

I appreciate Education Minister Chan Chun Sing's announcement in Parliament to amend schools' policies with the intention to keep the stress level of our students in check, and to make it easier for teachers and students in need to get help.

These include training and recruiting more school counsellors and reducing the scope of examinations.

Mr Chan also encouraged families to spend more time with their children, but perhaps because he was speaking from the perspective of Education Minister, the measures were focused mainly on schools.

More attention should also be paid to the family unit as it is another important aspect of students' mental well-being.

Dual-income parenthood and single-parent families have become norms.

The stress and pace of work have also intensified over the years.

With the pandemic, work-from-home arrangements may have further blurred the line between work and family.

If work is taking away quality time that parents can spend with their children, then we should start paying attention to this area, and more readily provide assistance and counselling to parents who are struggling to juggle work and family.

Parents should remember that they are the first, the closest, and the longest-serving teachers for their children.

They should be the first people the child approaches for any challenges that he faces in life.

The last thing we want is for parents to shift their stress onto their children and make things worse for them.

As it takes a village to raise a child, I hope the changes to schools are the first step to a more holistic approach to improving the mental well-being of our future generations.

Tan Boon Han