‘It’s really about normalising mental health’: What schools are doing so students seek help

SINGAPORE: When Kranji Secondary’s peer support leaders last year initiated a project called #SAFESPACE to increase awareness of how words can hurt, they did not expect many to respond.

They had made a video calling on students to submit notes on hurtful things others have said to them before.

“We emphasised that it was optional, and we thought that a lot of students wouldn’t be willing to share,” said Felicia Mah, the teacher in charge of Kranji Secondary’s peer support leaders. But 400 to 500 note cards were submitted.

Following the project, a Secondary Three student in her form class approached her. The student had noticed the number of notes relating to body image and volunteered to share her experience with anorexia, an eating disorder, with the student body.

Speaking over the public address system during morning assembly, she told her schoolmates what they could do if someone around them showed symptoms of the illness.

Urging them to be kinder, she said: “Your nasty words could’ve changed someone else’s life completely and definitely not in a good way … We should take care of our words and not be so reckless to say what we want.”

The impact of schools’ measures to boost mental health is not always tangible or measurable. But sometimes, as in this case, students send a clear signal that it has made a difference.

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