Introducing BrightSparks July 2023
On The Cover
In a world saturated with social media, it's easy to get lost in the never-ending scroll. But every now and then, something stops you in your tracks. That happened when I came across a video featuring a compassionate teacher reading out cards written by her young students on what made them sad. From the fear of talking about bullying to the anxiety of disappointing their parents with poor grades, their heartfelt words painted a stark picture of the pressures they endure. As I ventured into the comments section, I was struck by the chorus of voices from other youths, bravely sharing their own struggles and how those experiences shaped them as they grew older.
This poignant encounter served as a powerful reminder of the pressing need for conversations about mental health, starting from an early age. Science unequivocally tells us that the foundation of sound mental health is laid during the formative years of youth. The relationships children form with their parents, caregivers, teachers, and peers intricately shape the very architecture of their developing brains. Disruptions in this delicate process can have lifelong implications, impairing their ability to learn, connect with others and navigate the complexities of life.
While mental health has always been a prevalent issue, recent events, most notably the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have thrust it into the glaring spotlight. A nationwide survey conducted as part of the Singapore Youth Epidemiology and Resilience Study revealed alarming statistics: one in three adolescents between the ages of 10 to 18 reported experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Equally concerning was the finding that only one in ten parents could identify clinical-level mental health symptoms in their own children. These figures underscore the urgent need for parents and caregivers to actively engage in recognising and supporting their children's mental well-being.
Yet, the challenges extend far beyond the individual level. Lingering stigma continues to be a formidable barrier. In our cover story, we dive deep into this complex issue as we speak with Tiang Shu Hui, a Clinical Psychologist at the Psychological Service Unit (PSU) under AMKFSC Community Services. She shares more about strategies for overcoming the stigma associated with mental health and discovering how youth can better cope with the challenges they face.
We also turn to our scholars, who generously share their tips and provide invaluable advice from their own journey to help students cultivate better mental health. As we embark on the path toward creating safer spaces for open conversations about mental health, let us remember that each of us plays a crucial role in nurturing young minds and dismantling the barriers surrounding mental health. Together, we can foster a society that embraces kindness and empathy and looks out for those in need. By doing so, we ensure that our youth have the support and understanding they deserve on their journey toward brighter and healthier futures.