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How to Prevent Youths from Spiralling into Mental Illnesses

The conversation surrounding the mental wellness of our Singaporean youths has been rising. 

According to Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), “Suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged 10-29”. 

Many feel that our education system is way too stressful and competitive, leading to more and more youths spiralling into depression.

In Singapore, it is compulsory for children at the tender young age of twelve to take a national exam called the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Although it is mainly to determine their secondary school placing, parents tend to pin sky-high expectations on their young children, in hopes that they get a good head start for their future.

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Should we be taking some action to prevent these statistics from further escalating? Here are some ways we can do so.

Check on them regularly

Youths may not be sure how to bring up certain topics or their feelings to adults: be it tutors, teachers, or parents. In order to show them support, adults can take the initiative to check on them.

It is beneficial to ask them specific questions such as “Have you been eating well?” and “How did you feel about your test today?” to spur them to talk about their daily life, making sure that they are okay in all aspects.

The rate of suicide is especially higher amongst males with the societal expectation that it is “manly” to not show emotions.

However, bottling up their feelings can be extremely dangerous as they would be dealing with all their problems alone, and can be way too overwhelming for youths, especially.

When these youths do open up to you, listen, and do not hurry to force your solutions down their throat. If you do not handle their communication to you well, they are likely never to open up to you, or anyone for that matter, again, so you should be careful about how you respond to them.

Do not judge them, but rather, listen to them with kindness and an open heart.

Don’t place too much focus on academics

Yes, academics are important, but youths should have a life outside of just studies.

It is important for them to continue to pursue their hobbies as a student so that they can relieve their stress and experiment with their likes and dislikes.

Let them hang out with their friends or play their favourite games, as long as they are in moderation. Social skills are also an important requirement of life, and a lot can be learned through play.

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Forcing them to only study will make youths feel trapped and lose meaning in life, leading to mental breakdowns.

Advise them, but don’t force them

Many parents make the mistake of forcing their children to fit into the expectations of an ideal child that they, as parents, have. What they don’t realise is that every child has their own personality, interests, and mindset.

Even teachers and tutors make assumptions of what is a ‘good’ path for a student, a ‘good’ career, ‘good’ grade, etc.

Say, a student tells you that they want to pursue a job that does not sound very conventional to you. Even if you may not agree with their wishes, allow them to trial and error with their own life. If they make mistakes, at least they learn from them and do not have regrets that they did not get a chance to attempt.

Who knows, they might be right and know what’s better for them! When youths feel like they have no say in their life, it can really limit their creativity and cause them to be pessimistic.

Explain to them the symptoms of mental illnesses

Some youths may not even realise that they are suffering from mental issues. Make sure that they know of the different types of mental illnesses, how to identify them and how to seek help. 

With their knowledge of mental problems, they could even help a friend who is suffering from it and empathise with them.

Make sure that they are getting enough exercise and sleep

Physical health is closely related to mental health. If youths are not taking care of their bodies well, their minds might suffer too. 

Exercise is proven to help release stress as it produces feel-good hormones called endorphins. Exercise also keeps them fit and healthy, so that they can remain strong and fight their everyday battles.

When youths do not get enough sleep, it puts them at a direct high risk of mental health problems such as depression.

Encourage them to improve

As they are still growing and learning, it is perfectly normal for youths to make mistakes or not perform up to expectations. 

When this happens, don’t be so harsh on them as they are probably having trouble accepting themselves too. Youths are going through a lot of change in their life and need a lot of positive support to push them in the direction.

Assure them that it is okay to err as a human and not to take it so hard on themselves.


Once someone lands themselves in a mental illness, it’s very difficult to get out of it. So, prevention is better than cure.

We should try to bring down these unfortunate numbers and stop losing our happy, vibrant youths to mental illnesses.

We hope that this article has been useful for you!

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Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.