Singapore Youth Epidemiology and Resilience Study surveyed 3,336 youngsters aged 11 -18. It is alarming that the study has shown that 1 in every 3 Singapore youth probably has mental health issues. The national study concluded that they internalise mental health symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, and loneliness.
Youngsters between the age of 14 to 16 have more problematic symptoms. It has never been more crucial to raise youth mental health awareness in Singapore than now. Parents should also be aware of youth mental health issues, how they can help their kids, and when to seek help. This blog on mental health hopes to help every teenager or parent reading this.
What is Mental Health?
Teenagers and parents must understand what mental health is. This understanding is very necessary for countering the issue of youth mental health in Singapore is battling.
To put it in simple words, mental health signifies an individual’s emotional and psychological wellness. Mental health affects how one sees life and interacts with others. There is a difference between mental health and mental disorder. The latter is a significant health issue that negatively impacts a person’s behaviour, thinking, and interaction.
Signs of Depression in Youths
We should be aware of teenage mental health facts because hormones play a turbulent role in this transitional period. But when a teenager is going through emotional ups- and-downs too frequently, it can be a sign of a mental illness developing in them.
In 2021, a study showed that the number of youngsters (between 10 -24 years) diagnosed with depression increased four-fold between 2013 and 2018. Recently, there has been a lot of talk on youth mental health, the pandemic Covid-19 caused.
It is very important to understand what are the signs of depression in youth. Then you can help as early as possible.
An eating disorder can be a sign that someone is suffering from depression. Bulimia, Anorexia, and even binge eating can mean that a person might have a major depressive disorder.
Eating disorders are very common in teenagers. Depression is one of the factors causing them. Many teenagers have low-esteem and slip into depression because they are not happy with their body image.
Some signs will help you detect any eating disorder in your child and especially in teenagers. These are:
- Obsessing over physical image
- Excessive worrying about the nutritional content
- Deviating from exercise routines
- Consuming dietary or laxative pills
- Body weight fluctuation
- Change in eating habits
- Being temperamental
2. Risk-Taking Behaviours
There are quite a few scholarly teenage mental health articles on the internet that mention risk-taking behaviours in adolescents from 10 to early adults as signs of depression. Pre-teens and teenagers can indulge in risky behaviours like drug or alcohol abuse, or indulging in self-harm.
These behavioural changes are strong warning signs. Look out for all unsafe behaviours. Pay attention to whether they are cutting or burning even a tiny part of their skin, smoking, becoming promiscuous, talking about death a lot, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs.
3. High Level of Anxiety
Since the onset of Covid-19, Singapore has also thankfully seen an increase in youth mental health programs. This pandemic has resulted in a higher number of depression and anxiety cases in children and adults alike. Depression and anxiety are very closely linked. A child who displays a high level of anxiety is more prone to depression.
Sadly, it is now normal for teenagers in Singapore between 8 and 18 to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders. And most of the time school-related stress causes them. See whether your child is struggling with homework, projects, or tests.
You should also check whether they are having difficulties in their friendships. Sometimes harassment or bullying by teachers or peers can make them extremely anxious.
4. Sleeping Disorder
When a youngster oversleeps regularly, they might be depressed. Similarly, when they are sleep-deprived, their mental well-being gets affected too. Consistent lack of sleep can lead to clinical depression. If a teenager finds it hard to sleep for more than six hours at a stretch, they might have developed depression. Depression and insomnia are interlinked.
Other sleep problems that are signs of depression in a child are somnambulism, snoring, and bed-wetting. According to another survey conducted in Singapore, girls are more prone to sleep disorders than boys.
The sleep disorders affecting most children are confusional arousal, bruxism, sleep terrors, sleep paralysis, sleep starts, sleep talking, sleepwalking, nocturnal enuresis, and nightmares.
5. Self-harming or Suicidal Thoughts
Singapore youths are slowly breaking the stigma around mental health. They are revealing how they are struggling with thoughts of suicide and self-harm. It is high time for maximum youth mental health awareness because the rate of suicide among Singapore youth is ever-increasing. In 2020, Singapore recorded an increase of 37.5% jump in suicide rates in adolescents aged between 10 and 19.
You must be open about mental health. to identify the suicidal and self-harm tendencies of your child. See whether your ward is becoming withdrawn or feeling hopeless. They might often be teary or sad, self-harm, or seem to be preoccupied with talks of death. If they have suicidal thoughts, they will possibly have more emotional outbursts, mood fluctuations, and loss of interest in daily activities.
5 Ways you could help your child defeat mental health issues
There are different ways that you as a parent can take to help the mental health of your child. We have shared below 5 ways to enhance the mental well-being of children. Use them to boost their mental health and help them overcome their depression.
1. Find out the source of the problem
The moment you get the first hint you get of one of the mental issues that surface in your child, take it seriously. If your child seems stressed out, you need to talk to them. See whether they are suffering from any performance pressure. Educate yourself about the issues that your child is facing. You must listen to them in a nonjudgmental way and support them. Make yourself and your child feel comfortable while you try to find out what is causing their problems.
2. Spend quality time with them
You have to provide your child with emotional support. The easiest way to do that is to spend quality time with them. Accept that your child is struggling internally. So let them talk about their problems. Encourage them to share their worries, but remember not to be too pushy. You will gain their trust, and they will find it easier to open up to you. Listen to what they are saying patiently, and try to detect the warning signs. This will help you to decide what you should do to help further.
3. Motivate positive lifestyle
Covid has taught us the importance of connecting with other people for mental well-being. The pandemic and lockdowns have hugely affected children’s mental health. But you must assure your child that the situation is not out-of-control. Motivate them to have a healthy lifestyle. Enlighten their room with the scent of Peppermint could help them kickstart their day with a elevated mood.
Provide them with only essential and correct information on how and what they should do during the pandemic. Educate them about the 3-ply surgical mask and KN95 masks kids can wear. There are also KF94 masks kids can try out. Establish healthy habits which they should develop.
With different Corona variants being detected, tell your child that they should follow the safety and hygiene rules. But tell them that using masks and sanitizers is going to keep them safe. And now vaccines are also here to protect them. Encourage positive thinking as it helps with stress management. Teach them to meditate or practice mindfulness.
4. Shield them from negative surroundings
A child’s environment affects their mental health. A child needs to be growing up in healthy surroundings. Pollution, noise, bad weather, and housing conditions can contribute to the development of mental health problems.
Also, you have to protect your child from negative situations which harm their self-esteem and make them anxious and irritated. Because a negative surrounding that triggers these will push a child deeper into depression or anxiety. Shield them from negative news and make them feel secure.
5. Encourage the youths to express themselves
Tell the young ones to be open with their emotions and feelings. Uninhibited self-expression helps in developing good mental health. Inform them how they can express themselves through art, writing, music, poetry, etc. Self-expression gives a sense of fulfilment and helps to develop a sense of identity.
Youngsters need to express themselves. Self-expression helps build self-esteem and instils confidence and independent thinking. Think of activities that will help them to do so in a fun way. It can be through their art or clothes.
Self-expression is a powerful part of the recovery from any mental health issue. Encourage your child to start with simple and comfortable things like journaling or talking to themself by looking in a mirror.
Seeking Professional Help
It is essential to understand when to seek professional help and how to enroll in any youth mental health program. The youth and parents of children must understand that there is no shame in seeking professional help. It is much more important to break the stigma and save a life. The depiction of youth mental health issues in movies and social media has attached a sense of fear to any psychological disorder. And that is why youth mental health awareness needs a big push.
Most of the time, professional guidance or professional assistance in the form of counselling can easily help young individuals overcome their mental health struggles. There are currently quite a few Singapore youth mental health support channels and agencies which provide help at an affordable cost or even free.
Follow Wistech Health Newsroom on Wistech Instagram to check the latest news weekly!