Mental Health: Support for Students

Parliamentary Question, 11 February 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Education: (a) in 2018, what is the total number of students in schools and institutes of higher learning who sought help with counsellors due to stress and anxiety; and (b) what is the current student-counsellor ratio in each school.

Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung: Counselling issues vary in causes and complexity, and schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have varying ways of tracking them. We estimate that in 2018, around 10 out of every 1,000 students at schools and IHLs received counselling support for anxiety or stress-related issues. These issues include relationship, personal struggles, family disputes, or academic difficulties. We do not have macro level specific breakdown for anxiety or stress-related counselling issues.

Today, all schools are resourced with at least one to two school counsellors, while all IHLs are resourced with at least two to three counsellors. They are in turn augmented by part-time MOE-trained school counsellors, para-counsellors, Flexi-Adjunct School Counsellors, or Teacher Counsellors.

MOE is looking into upstream work such as training of teachers in mental health literacy and preventive programmes for vulnerable/at-risk students. All teachers are already equipped with basic counselling skills and serve as front-liners in supporting students with social-emotional needs. Mental health is an issue to be taken seriously, and requires the concerted efforts of educators, counsellors, parents and peers.

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Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities.

She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.