Singapore students with depression, anxiety symptoms miss 24 days of school yearly on average: Study - Promises Healthcare

In TODAY Online’s article written by Deborah Lau, Singaporean students grappling with depression and anxiety symptoms are facing significant challenges in their educational journey, as revealed by a recent study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School and the Institute of Mental Health. The research highlights the distressing impact of mental health issues on academic attendance, with an average of 24 days of school being missed by affected students annually. Published on May 11, the study surveyed 1,515 children and youth aged four to 21, bringing attention to the urgent need for addressing mental health concerns among Singapore’s young population.

One poignant example is Fitriah, a 19-year-old student who struggled with depression but refrained from seeking professional help due to the exorbitant costs involved. Instead, she resorted to taking “mental health days” off from school, leading her to feign multiple illnesses over time to mask her challenges. This case reflects the broader findings of the study, which indicates that many young individuals face similar dilemmas in coping with their mental health.

Dr. Adrian Loh, a senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare, emphasizes the long-term repercussions of untreated mental health conditions, which can include academic and occupational difficulties. Dropping out of formal schooling or an inability to secure stable employment may become unfortunate consequences for those who do not receive adequate support.

The study further reveals that despite the prevalence of anxiety and depression among the youth, a staggering 84.8 percent of affected individuals lack a formal diagnosis from healthcare providers. This suggests that a significant proportion of Singaporean youth dealing with mental health issues remain untreated or under-treated, potentially exacerbating the problem in the long run.

Several factors contribute to the reluctance of young people to seek professional help, with high healthcare costs being a primary deterrent. Additionally, the need for parental consent and concerns about confidentiality create further barriers, hindering affected youth from seeking the necessary support.

It is essential for society to address the stigma surrounding mental health and provide a supportive environment for young individuals seeking help. Parents and caregivers, in particular, play a crucial role in offering support and understanding to their children. By fostering open communication and equipping themselves with knowledge about mental health, parents can positively impact their children’s well-being and academic performance. Ultimately, early intervention and a holistic approach are essential in helping Singaporean youth overcome mental health challenges and lead fulfilling lives.

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