Children and teenagers in Singapore today face pressures and influences that could have an effect on their mental health. While parents may often perceive them as moody or going through a phase, inexplicable behaviour could often be attributed to a mental health issue.

Depression Among Children and Teens

Anxiety and depression are affecting growing numbers of young individuals, Singapore mental health professionals confirm.

Mood swings and irritability are usually being explained by puberty and the changes that young people go through as they grow up. Unfortunately, these also happen to be common signs of depression that may be ignored or underestimated.

Very often, parents have no idea what’s going on. They may tell teens to snap out of it but depending on the circumstances and the severity of the condition, this could be impossible. Clinical depression isn’t a problem that will get resolved on its own. It requires the involvement of professionals, usually a psychiatrist in Singapore who will carry out a thorough assessment for the purpose of choosing the therapeutic approach bound to deliver the best possible outcome.

According to the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, depression is the most common psychological issue in the city-state. Professional projections suggest that 170,000 adults will be affected by depression in their lifetime, which is 6.3 per cent of the adult population. While exact estimates about depression in children and adolescents do not exists, Singapore mental health professionals believe that such problems are on the rise among young people.

Stress and Nervousness

The impact of chronic stress on one’s emotional and mental wellbeing could be detrimental.

Children in Singapore are exposed to high levels of stress. Parents push for academic excellence and young individuals are expected to excel in school. Very often, these expectations set a standard that may be impossible to fulfil.

This kind of stress impacts academic performance and the ability of children to socialise with others in a healthy manner. Fear of the repercussions prevents them from taking the initiative or pursuing a dream that may be out of line when it comes to societal expectations and norms.

Pushy parenting may aim at motivation but it accomplishes the exact opposite effect. It contributes to nervous individuals who do not pursue knowledge because they understand the benefits. These people are looking for good grades in order to avoid punishment.

The stress could contribute to sleep problems, bad behaviour and it may also increase the risk of developing addictive behaviour. The difference between encouragement and going too far as a parent is significant. Thus, help from a therapist or a child counsellor can give parents a good idea about stimulating their children without contributing to chronic stress during the process.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Approximately three to 10 per cent of children across the world are affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Singapore is far from an exception.

Usually, ADHD begins affecting children before the age of seven. It is characterised by an inability to focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time, restlessness and hyperactivity. When the symptoms continue for a period of six months or more, professional assistance should be sought.

People who have ADHD can be successful in life. Depending on the severity of the problem and the treatment plan chosen, academic performance and general focus can improve significantly.

When should a parent seek help? Psychologists believe that assistance may be required when a child lacks pronounced interests, when they cannot be involved in something for a long period of time, in the case of inability to understand why misbehaving is a bad thing and also in the case of communication problems. Treatment options do exist and these range from changes in nutrition to psychological therapy and medications.

Eating Disorders

Media reports suggest that eating disorders may be on the rise among adolescents in Singapore.

Bullying in school, an impossible beauty standard (that is broadcast via all sorts of traditional and online media) and a pronounced diet culture can have a massive effect on a young person who’s growing up. The fact that the bodies of teenagers are changing rapidly is also contributing to a high level of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance that could trigger a psychological issue.

Enhanced mental health literacy and the fact that Singaporean parents are beginning to recognise the signs of eating disorders have also contributed to a bigger number of young people being treated for such problems.

International statistics suggest this is a global phenomenon and it doesn’t affect only teenagers. A shocking 42 per cent of the girls aged seven to nine want to be thinner. Half of the girls in the 13 to 15 age range believe that they’re overweight. Globally, 95 per cent of the people suffering from an eating disorder belong to the 12 to 25 age group. While girls are more predisposed to such problems, the incidence of eating disorders is also increasing among boys.

Some of the common signs that potentially indicate an eating disorder include rapid fluctuations in weight, very limited food intake, avoidance of certain foods, excessive exercise, unwillingness to have meals with the family and spending long periods of time in the bathroom (could be associated to the use of laxatives or to purging).

Seeking professional assistance is the best option for overcoming such problems in kids and teenagers. Very often, young people are incapable of coping with the everyday stressors that they’re exposed to. They need some guidance to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

The Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic – Psychiatrists and Psychologists for Mental Health in Singapore has the experience and the resources to work with young individuals. Our child counselling as well as child psychiatric services are holistic and they could address a wide array of mental health problems. While working with young patients, we also assist parents who are seeking the tools and the knowledge to help young people. Please contact us today to explore the possibilities.

Article by Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic