singapore Meditate more, 'don't stress kids out': Ng Kok Song and Tharman share views on youth's mental health

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Presidential candidates Ng Kok Song and Tharman Shanmugaratnam shared their thoughts on caring for the youth's mental health in Singapore's stressful society.

Ng and Tharman were each given 90 seconds to answer questions submitted by young Singaporeans in a forum organised by The Straits Times. The video was posted on its social media platforms on Sunday (Aug 27) night.

One of the questions asked how the future president could help address the rise of mental health issues among youths.

Tharman, 66, began by emphasising the gravity of mental health issues, not just in Singapore's youth, but also those from around the world.

"I think the first thing we have to do is both for parents and kids — don’t be so stressed when the kids are young. Don’t stress the kids out," he said.

Instead of focusing so hard on achieving results in examinations, parents ought to allow their children to play and have more free time and de-stress.

The government is making changes to the system to help assist in this change, he shared.


"I think parents and kids have to realise that life is a long game... you may not be number one, or even number five in school, but life is a long game."

He added: "Life is meant to be carefree when we are young, and we’ve got to be able to unwind... so that we go back to those days."

Ng, 75, believes that mental health issues in youth arise from the need to conform to society and perform "to the expectations" of parents, teachers and peers.

"I think social media has a lot of advantages," Ng said, "but it also has the downside of requiring our youth to look and appear good in the eyes of their peers".

To address this problem, Ng recommends youth to practise meditation and mindfulness.

He explained: "I have discovered from my own experience that it has helped me to be myself, to let go of images that I would like to portray to other people or even images that I create for myself.

"So it’s very important for all our children, our youth, to have confidence in themselves."

The third presidential candidate, Tan Kin Lian, declined to participate in the forum, The Straits Times said.

He will, however, be present at Mediacorp's live Presidential Forum on Monday (Aug 28)...

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