Schools can create safe spaces for students: President Halimah
Educational institutions can do more to create safe spaces for students who face problems seeking help for mental health issues, said President Halimah Yacob.
During a visit to Republic Polytechnic (RP) yesterday, Madam Halimah noted that students may not always have the courage to confide in their teachers, or may think there is a stigma attached to mental health issues.
"We need to provide a safe environment for the students, for them to feel that it's okay - 'I have a mental health problem, I can seek help, I will get the help and I will be able to continue to perform well'."
The President spoke to the media after touring RP's Student Care Centre, which caters to students with mental health issues as well as special education and other needs.
The 208 sq m centre opened in June last year after a revamp.
It has two rooms for conferences, five for counselling, two sensory rooms and an assistive technology library, where students with special needs can borrow assistive devices.
The sensory rooms are private and quiet places for students who may be prone to anxiety issues or panic attacks - a space for students to calm themselves when feeling anxious in school.
Madam Halimah lauded RP for its efforts in providing such support.
Ms Sher Yuan, 18, a second-year pharmaceutical science student, said she frequently visits the centre and makes use of the sensory rooms. She has autism spectrum disorder.
"When I'm feeling stressed, I'll go to the centre to revise my homework or have a quick chat with the counsellors," she said, adding that the sensory rooms help her to calm down.
The rooms are also equipped with a panic button for students to alert a counsellor in times of emergency.
The polytechnic said that before the Covid-19 outbreak, around 20 to 30 students visited the centre daily for a variety of reasons - financial aid queries, counselling matters, scholarships, student support issues such as shuttle bus services, as well as to borrow assistive technology equipment.