SINGAPORE: All teachers and school counsellors are equipped to help students in psychological and mental health-related areas, said Acting Minister for Education (School) Ng Chee Meng on Monday (Mar 14) in Parliament.
Teachers are the first line of contact for all students, he said, replying to a parliamentary question by Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef. She had asked whether there is training provided for school teachers, educators and school counsellors to recognise and handle psychological and mental health-related issues.
Mr Ng said teachers are equipped to carry out three specific roles.
“First, teachers establish amongst classmates a culture of mutual care and support and teach students life skills to improve their emotional resilience,” he said.
“Second, teachers recognise common distress signals and identify those who need help. These signals include: Poor attention, social withdrawal, mood changes, aggression or any other behaviour that is uncharacteristic of the student.
“Third, teachers engage with such students to understand their issues and provide care and support. For complex cases requiring more extensive support, teachers will refer students to school counsellors.”
He added that all school counsellors have professional qualifications and will be able to provide intervention to students with psychological and mental health-related issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems and suicidal behaviour. For more severe cases, counsellors will refer the students to medical professional experts for treatment.