Mental health

Peer support structures to be strengthened

The NurtureSG task force stressed the importance of strengthening support networks and building resilience in young people.

Since students who are stressed do not always approach their parents or teachers for help, the Ministry of Education and Health Promotion Board will strengthen peer support structures in mainstream schools and institutes of higher learning by providing resources and training.

This way, students can spot signs of mental stress and look out for their peers.

A slew of initiatives have been introduced or are being considered to help support the mental well-being of young people. They include exploring the feasibility of mental health assessment for at-risk youth benefiting from the Government's Enhanced Step-Up programme.

The Tote Board has separately set aside up to $10 million in grant funding to tap ground-up ideas to help young people.

EASIER TO COMMUNICATE

They have been through what I have been through, so it is easier to talk to them.

ZARA AZIMAH ZWIERS, a Secondary 1 student, on the advice and encouragement from peer support leaders.

 

Recognising that suicidal and self-harming behaviours are often complex matters, an inter-agency research work group will also be set up to study such behaviours in children and those up to 35 years of age.

At Bukit View Secondary School, trained student leaders offer their peers emotional support. Secondary 1 student Zara Azimah Zwiers, 12, who found the transition from primary to secondary school stressful, said peer support leaders gave her helpful advice and encouragement.

"They have been through what I have been through, so it is easier to talk to them," she said.

Peer support leader Prisca Sim, 14, who helped set up a "cheer up box" with motivational quotes for her classmates, believes that her role is a simple but important one.

"You don't have to do much. Just being there to listen will help."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Peer support structures to be strengthened'. Print Edition | Subscribe