Singapore — Over the next two years, mental health lessons will be rolled out to primary, secondary and pre-university students, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (Dec 11).

During the launch of an e-book collection of stories from youths of diverse backgrounds, Mr Chan announced updates to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) initiatives to strengthen students’ mental health.

He highlighted that Singapore’s youth face multiple pressures today. “They grapple with managing their social life while balancing their academic and professional pursuits.”

“They deal with expectations that are both self-imposed and imposed upon them by society and their families. They also need to learn to navigate and thrive in a competitive, high-performing environment.

“On top of all this, our youths’ face unique challenges that the older generations have never experienced before,” said Mr Chan in a Channel News Asia report.

He was referring to the roles of technology and social media in potentially increasing anxiety and social pressure among the youth.

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It was reported that as part of the refreshed character and citizenship education curriculum, mental health lessons had been introduced to all lower secondary students.

This will be progressively rolled out to other students to “equip them with the knowledge and skills to build their resilience, strengthen their mental well-being and resolve their challenges,” said Mr Chan.

At the start of every term, all schools will also designate a time and space for teachers to check in on students’ well-being.

Teachers are equipped with “practical pedagogical resources” and tools to support students’ well-being, Mr Chan added.

In response to the news, members from the online community noted that there was more to mental health than modules and lessons.

“Students are stressed because there are already too many subjects. Yet, you are including one more subject to make them less stress(ed)?” asked one Benny Nasirelli.

Another netizen added, “It will be more beneficial to both teachers and students to cut syllabus, and dun waste time forcing students to memorise and regurgitate.”

“Instead of piling on more on teachers and students, how about cutting down the syllabus?” asked Facebook user Jennifer Kee. “Allow for more social interactions and relevant skills to be developed? Some skills cannot be taught using books, have to be practised and built into our muscles,” she added.

Meanwhile, others highlighted that the well-being of teachers should also be addressed, on top of hiring professionals to implement the decision.

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Good move, but also need to address mental health more holistically by looking out for teachers and other school staff too, commented netizen Adam Goi.

“Mental health isn’t taught. It’s sustained via external resources. Schools need more counselors, not modules,” said another netizen.

On the move to progressively roll out mental health lessons, a netizen made a simple suggestion: “The lessons should be outdoor at the park.”

Perhaps a mental health test taken yearly, instead of lessons, said a concerned individual. “We must teach the students how to handle failure than grades. Family plays a very important part to a child.” /TISG

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ByHana O