SINGAPORE: Singapore is seeing a surge in mental health issues among youths, and the government is taking the matter "very seriously” and "redoubling efforts" to understand this phenomenona, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
To better tackle the root causes of poorer mental health among youths, Singapore is working with researchers around the world to study the causes of the "worrying trend", DPM Wong said in parliament on Wednesday (Feb 7).
Rising as the first political office holder to speak on a parliamentary motion on advancing mental health, he noted that this trend of poorer mental health is also seen in other countries and researchers believe that this is linked to two issues.
The first is heavy social media usage, given:
- The constant pressure to present a positive image online
- The fear of missing out
- Algorithms that flood news feeds with stories that are designed to spark outrage
- Issues of cyberbullying
Furthermore, with more time spent online, users are likely to end up being sleep-deprived, doing less physical exercise and having fewer real live interactions, all of which, he said, are important for healthy brain development.
The second issue relates to what happens offline in real life.
Mr Wong said: “Other researchers think that it’s not just about more online safeguards, and that we also need to loosen up in the real world and give our children more space for free play and autonomy.”
“Because when children have less room to play and explore, or to interact and build social skills at an early age, they are also less likely to grow up with a sense of independence and confidence to take charge of their own lives,” he said.
Mr Wong stressed that more work needs to be done to better understand what has changed in recent years with regard to youths' mental health.
“It’s an area that requires further research and study — to ident...