Mental Health Youth

Mental Health in Youths

Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community. It is an integral and essential component of health, but is often overlooked and neglected. The recent rise in rates of mental health issues among youths is a matter of concern and it is imperative for us to discuss this topic to raise awareness and reduce prevalence of mental issues amongst youths – the hope of our future.

Internationally, studies have shown that 1 in 10 children aged 5-16 have a diagnosable mental health condition, ½ of all mental health problems are established by age 14, and ¾ of all mental health problems are established by age 24. Locally, findings from the Singapore Mental Health Study found that 1 in 7 people have experienced a mental disorder, with a higher prevalence amongst those aged 18-34. Studies suggest that youths struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders like self-harm. Addressing psychological well-being among youths is critical to helping them to thrive through adolescence and into adulthood.

Singaporean children are exposed to high levels of stress often, and may be derived from the school environment or from home. Sometimes, these stress levels may reach a threshold, beyond which it may impact the academic performance or social well-being of the child. It may even induce sleep problems, rebellious behaviour or lead to addiction. As parents, one may decide to push one’s child further to spur the child to reach his/her fullest potential, but this may inadvertently backfire, spiraling towards mental issues such as depression and anxiety as well. It is important to also recognise that one’s child (especially during the teenage years) is experiencing hormonal and physical changes that can be overwhelming, and may be grappling with various social and psychological issues during puberty. The added pressure externally can possibly tip the child over, and hence a fine balance needs to be sought to ensure child’s wellbeing. Seeking help from a therapist or counsellor may be useful to identify ways to stimulate a child’s growth within safe stress limits.

Signs and symptoms to identity if child may be depressed include continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and low energy, changes in sleep behaviour, changes in appetite, social withdrawal, irritability, impaired thinking and impaired social functioning and academic performance. Some children may not display symptoms, or may experience them at different periods of time. Hence, it is important for parents to observe and understand the child’s baseline behaviour to be able to identity acute changes and institute early intervention.

If immediate/urgent help is required, there are available hotlines that provide counselling services 24/7.

These include
1. Institute of Mental Health (24-hour hotline): 6389 2222
2. Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour suicide hotline): 1767

Mental health literacy is the basis for mental health promotion, prevention and best available care. In essence, early intervention and prevention is key and these can be achieved by

  1. Understanding mental health issues surrounding youths
  2. Help yourself as a parent, and your child seek help early 
  3. Help your child lead a healthy lifestyle, both physically and psychologically.

Do you have concerns about mental health issues surrounding youths? Do you feel that your child may need some support in this aspect? Consult our team through our telemedicine platform on HeyAlly for advice.