One in every ten teenagers in Singapore is found to suffer from at least one mental health disorder, according to recent research by the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Additionally, the study further indicates that teens are increasingly using digital media as a way of self-therapy. The research calls for more mental health literacy among parents.
Exactly 3,336 adolescents aged around young people aged 10 to 18 were involved in the data gathering of this nationwide research, which is also considered the first mental health and resilience research in Singapore.
After evaluating the mental health symptoms of the respondents, the research finds that one in three youths has internalised mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Meanwhile, about one in six respondents experienced externalised symptoms, such as hyperactivity, rule-breaking, and aggression.
Overall, 12 per cent of the respondents, which is equivalent to 1 in every 10 respondents, met the full diagnostic criteria for having at least one current mental health disorder.
The research also further shows that resilience is important to good mental health, as the higher resilience scores the higher the levels of good mental health.
Moreover, 15- and 16-year-olds have the worst resilience levels— when dividing the data into sex, females tend to have lower resilience compared to males, causing higher incidences of anxiety and depression.
Needed support from parents
Parents’ support is a significant element in helping teens with their mental health. They need to be able to determine mental health signs and problems.
In fact, there is only one in every ten parents who would see symptoms in their children, compared to one in three youths who would self-report them.
The research further emphasised the need for parents to be more involved in checking their children’s mental health issues, according to Ms Sun Xueling from the Minister of State for Social and Family Development.
“A family’s ability to solve problems and spend time together as a unit plays a key role in the psychological and overall well-being of children and youths without health conditions,” Ms Xueling said.
The National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Associate Professor John Wong, who led the study, called for parents to forge an early bond with their children.
“Many of us don’t really know our teenagers very well,” said Prof Wong.