Archive for May, 2012

We’re coming to the end of the Term. I told a teacher this morning that my mind is willing but my flesh is weak…my mind told me I needed to come to work but my flesh wanted to stay in bed! So I can imagine how tired some of you must be feeling both in mind and body. I’m hopeful that you can at least get some semblance of rest this June break even if it’s just for a couple of days to really really chill. 🙂
 
I wanted to blog about this article that I read in ‘Mind Your Body’ a couple of weeks ago but never got around to it till now. It’s about how young people between the ages of 18-29 have a higher risk of developing mental health disorders compared to older people in Singapore according to a study conducted by IMH in 2010. 1 in 14 young people has major depressive disorder, 1 in 27 has obssessive compulsive disorder and 1 in 33 has alcohol abuse problems. That’s staggering statistics if you ask me considering how debilitating these disorders can be. When asked why Singapore youths are at such high risk, Dr. Chong Siow Ann from IMH says that ‘adolescence and young adulthood are crucial periods in a young person’s life when he has to make important decisions about almost every aspect of life…further studies, starting a career, forming romantic attachments…’ and such change and transitions can be very stressful. As a counsellor in a junior college, I see that to be true in the students I’ve seen for counselling. We often assume that since you’re no longer a young child you should be able to deal with things on your own and stick it through when things get tough. But we forget that this is a transition period that can be so stressful because there’s so much on the line and the decisions you make now can have such a long-term impact on how life may turn out for you.
 
Another possible reason cited for the high incidence of mental disorders in young people is the fact that our Singaporean collective culture puts so much emphasis on achievement – you are rewarded only when you perform well. Dr. Jasmine Pang from CGH says that ‘people learn from a young age that they should be hardworking and perform well in their studies and work. When they do not meet the high demands they place on themselves they tend to become anxious and depressed’. Dr. Daniel Fung also explained that ‘when they (young people) do not meet the expectations of important people in their lives, they become stressed and, over time, may develop symptoms of anxiety and depression’. 

I see that in my god-nephews who are just 5 and 4 years old this year. The younger one’s personality is more chill-lax but the older one is like a mini-me. He reminds me of me when I was his age – perfectionistic, places high and rigid demands on himself to perform well, can’t take failure etc. He has enrichment lessons every day (including weekends) on top of going to kindergarten and I worry about his mental health when he grows abit older. So I remind him as often as I can that he is loved regardless of whether he performs well or not and that life is so much more than academic achievement. 

Many young people with mental health disorders don’t seek help until it’s too late. The study showed that 2 in 3 never seek help which has serious implications on their chance for recovery and complicates the treatment process. I’ve listed some helpful resources on the site so do check it out and also come by the counselling room to have a chat with me whenever.