PETALING JAYA: The authorities should include stress management modules in the school curriculum in view of a large number of children struggling with mental health issues, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
The Befrienders Kuala Lumpur patron said the issue warranted appropriate action, as the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 had revealed that 424,000 children were struggling with mental health issues.
"This is a great concern to all of us, and this issue must be addressed properly as children are our future and our hope," he said in a statement Sunday (June 21).
He said children must be equipped with problem-solving skills as well as skills to manage stress efficiently, apart from helping to build resilience.
"Incorporating these elements into the school syllabus can help improve children's mental health," he said.
Bullying could also severely affect a child’s mental health and even lead to suicide, he noted.
"It is time for us to acknowledge the importance of mental health for both adults and children," he said.
"The stress-causing factors include going to a new school and meeting new friends.
"All these can make them feel stressful or anxious," he said.
He said parents should also play a significant role in ensuring their children’s mental well-being.
"Providing an environment at home that is filled with love and care can have a positive impact on children’s mental health.
"Encouraging healthy conversation – listening, and allowing them to talk without being judgmental and critical would help them open up and express themselves freely.
"This would encourage them to be more open to talk about their problems, including difficulties faced, and uncomfortable feelings, and reach out for help," he said.
Lee also called on parents to spend more time with their children, and get involved in activities that promoted bonding such as reading, exercising and praying together.
This would help build stronger connections and instil self-care practices in children, he said.
"Show them it is essential to take care of our own mental health, which includes eating a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep," he said.
He said learning about the symptoms and early signs of mental distress was part of a preventive strategy.
"Some of the common warning signs include persistent sadness or worry, frequent outbursts of anger and aggressiveness, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, changes in academic performance, avoiding or missing school, withdrawal from family and friends, changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns, harming oneself or talking about harming oneself, and talking about death or suicide.
"If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please reach out for help. Speak to a psychiatrist or a counsellor.
"The ability to recognise that a child needs help is crucial as early intervention can improve their well-being. With proper care and treatment, most mental health issues can be treated," he said.
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