Voices of Youth: Teach students how to help others with mental health issues

After what happened at River Valley High School, where a Secondary 1 student was allegedly killed by a Secondary 4 student, we need to raise awareness of the increased need for mental health support among teenagers.

I propose that a system be put in place in schools to allow students who are in distress or in a state of depression to book an appointment with a therapist if they need serious support for their mental health.

This proposal may be expensive, but the outcome of this project would be positive and desirable for schools and students.

I also propose that Singapore starts a peer support programme, in which students would be trained to spot signs of distress or suicidal intentions.

This programme would start small by teaching students the importance of promoting a culture of care within the class by being alert to changes in their classmates' behaviours and recognising the common signs of distress.

Not only would students learn about recognising signs, but they would also learn how to handle the situation well by learning to understand another person's needs, the proper way of giving advice and when to report any changes to a trusted adult.

With this programme, everyone can play a part in supporting one another.

My proposals would greatly benefit students. By offering to listen to their problems, we could help students in need to be mentally stronger and also play a part in passing the help forward to someone else who is in need.

This would then make schools a better environment for students to learn and strengthen their relationships with others at the same time, resulting in improved mental health.

Kenneth Edbert Soetanto, 13

Secondary 2 student