Graduate programme at SUSS targets those working for mental health of Singapore youth

The programme aims to train and certify social workers to be more equipped to help young people, following a call for more mental health support in Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will launch a graduate diploma course focused on mental health support for young people.

The Graduate Diploma in Youth Work Programme is a joint project of SUSS and the Youth Work Association Singapore (YWAS).

It aims to train and certify social workers to be more equipped to help young people, following a call for more mental health support in Singapore.

Most youth workers in Singapore have qualifications in social work, psychology or counselling, according to the head of the programme, Mr Nicholas Gabriel Lim.

But in these disciplines, there are no existing programmes here to certify those working specifically with young people, and this diploma will help bridge the gap, he added.

The programme will follow existing youth frameworks, like the National Youth Work Competency Framework, developed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Such a framework includes key responsibility areas and skill requirements for the role of a youth worker.

The frameworks will act as guidelines for the course, and as a benchmark tool for lesson-planning.

The partnership with YWAS will offer SUSS access to more than 10 youth work sector partners such as Shine Children and Youth Services and Boys Town, for the students of the course to gain on-the-ground experience through events and programmes.

YWAS will also grant a one-year professional membership to the graduates of the course.

YWAS leaders will serve on the course's advisory panel and teach some modules. Modules in the course will also be taught by other partners of the YWAS who have experience with youth work.

The intake for the one-year course will be closed in October this year and the programme will begin in January 2022.

Dr John Tan (left), president of Youth Work Association Singapore, and Associate Professor Lim Lee Ching, dean of the S R Nathan School of Human Development at SUSS, signing the MOU for the programme at SUSS. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A memorandum of understanding was signed between SUSS and YWAS for the programme on Monday (Aug 23).

Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and Social and Family Development Eric Chua was the guest of honour at the event.

"All of us in the youth sector recognise that there is a gap when it comes to youth work and there have been efforts made over the years to try to develop programmes to meet that need. I think it is high time that we are able to fulfil that need, and the pandemic allows us to do so more promptly," said Mr Lim.

Mr Chua also noted that the pandemic has changed the way that young people live, learn, work and interact with others.

"Some youths have been observed to become socially isolated and reserved as their social life is impacted, while some others have to cope with the pressure of finding a job to alleviate family finances. This to me is a huge cause of concern," he said.

"This partnership is timely as we have, in the past years, been striving towards improving support for our youths, so that they can emerge stronger and become more resilient, amidst this pandemic and beyond."

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