Quoted in a recent article in the Straits Times, eleven-year-old Kieran knows the value of study and the importance of grades, but he feels his stress levels going up higher than they should for someone his age. Parents and students all over Singapore are experiencing the same concerns. Childhood stress is real, and it is increasing.

Kieran’s Story

Young Kieran Lee already knows the stress of a stack of paperwork. He has a mature attitude towards learning, explaining that “I know studying is good for us. It is supposed to help train our brains. If we don’t study, we will become mindless zombies walking around.”

However, Kieran dreads the pile of homework that he faces every day. “I just want an hour of homework. Otherwise, it piles up and when I look at the stack of work, I feel very stressed out.”

Proof of Singapore’s Student Stress Levels

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a recent study on students in Singapore, comparing them with students in other nations. The Singapore students had higher levels of anxiety and stress, particularly about grades and tests.

Experts correlate these rising stress levels with another disturbing trend— the increasing number of Singapore youth who need professional mental health services. Daniel Koh, a Singapore psychologist, remembers that five years ago, he only saw one or two stressed-out students each year. Today, the number of young patients with school-related anxiety has risen to around eight every year. Some of these students are suffering from depression, panic attacks, social withdrawal, anger issues, obsessive-compulsive habits, self-harm, or sleep problems.

How the School System Can Help

Much of the anxiety and fear among students is related to the O level and A level exams. Students are told that these exams dramatically affect the rest of their lives. This kind of pressure can motivate students to work hard and excel, so the Ministry of Education cannot completely remove that stress. However, the MOE has altered the scoring system for the Primary School Leaving Examination, starting in 2021, and it no longer announces the top scorers.

How Parents Can Help

Parents are trying to do what they can to reduce stress at home. Kieran’s father, Alvin Lee, encourages the boy’s sailing hobby and takes him and his brother to farms and to the countryside to relax. He has also bought the two boys some pets, in part because of the animals’ therapeutic value.

How a Singapore Psychiatrist Can Help

If you find that even your best efforts are not helping your child or teen’s stress levels, consider seeking professional help. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, your child will find a welcoming, comfortable environment where he or she can discuss stress factors and other issues without fear of judgment. With counselling, therapy, and careful treatment, your child will discover how to reduce some of the stress in his life and manage the stress factors that he cannot eliminate. Thanks to our skilled Singapore psychiatrists and care team members, your child can develop stress management skills that will help him throughout the rest of his life.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, 27 August 2017