TEACHER counsellors should refer students with mental health issues to medical professionals.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said students who display signs of serious mental health problems must be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment.
“This is part of the standard operating procedure (SOP),” he told reporters after launching the Malaysia Guidance and Counselling Services International Conference last Tuesday.
This is especially for students who show suicidal or self-harm tendencies.
“If they notice a change in the student’s attitude, something not normal or depression, they (teachers) can do something about it,” Chong added.
He said teachers can also advise for the child to seek professional help based on the psychometric tests carried out in schools.
“It’s an early detection step,” he said, adding that this is one of the advantages of using the School Based Assessment System.
On another matter, Chong said the current ratio of teacher counsellors to students is not enough to meet the demands of Malaysian schools.
“It is time we relook at the ratio of one teacher counsellor to 500 students,” he added. In primary schools, he said, the ratio stands at one teacher counsellor to 350 pupils.
“To me, this ratio is too high,” added Chong.
“We could look at how other countries are doing it, especially developed countries where there is one teacher counsellor to every 150 to 250 students,” he said.
He added that there are currently more than 10,000 teacher counsellors in government schools.
Chong also said that teachers can seek counselling services at the district education offices.