Why do some children find it hard to seek help from their parents, teachers or other trusted adults in their lives? What can we do to make it easier for them?
These were some of the questions that came up when Singapore Children’s Society’s Tinkle Friend team met 30 educators from the Ministry of Education (MOE) Singapore as part of their learning journey at the Teachers’ Conference and ExCEL Fest 2023 for local educators.
The team highlighted the common stressors faced by children who have contacted Tinkle Friend, a national toll-free helpline (1800 2744 788) and chatline (www.tinklefriend.sg) for all primary school-going children in Singapore. Tinkle Friend offers support, advice and information to lonely and distressed children, especially in situations where their parents or main caregivers are unavailable.
Our Tinkle Friend staff, Xing Yating, presenting to the MOE educators
Participants at the event also got a chance to find out more about the Tinkle Friend programme, which includes complimentary e-assembly talks for primary schools and BUZZ newsletters for children on the Tinkle Friend website. It was a great opportunity for the educators to get to know the faces behind the Tinkle Friend helpline and online chat team, with a glimpse into their daily operations.
The event saw the team also sharing highlights from the Tinkle Friend mental health study “What are children in Singapore saying about their mental health concerns?”. Conducted by our Research Unit, the study pinpointed three sources of stress for children: expectations of achievements, family-related stressors, and peer issues.
A brainstorming session saw the educators suggesting changes they would like to implement at their school to reduce children’s barriers to help-seeking. For example, in response to children’s fear of burdening others, one participant shared that it was important to let students know that educators truly care for them and that their duty of care was more important than anything else, even education.
Another educator shared: “We need to let students have an avenue to share their feelings and talk to us. We may not be able to solve the issues, but at least we can be one of the pillars of support in their lives. It takes a village to raise a child.”
“We are very heartened to hear from the educators that we share the same passion for providing support to children. We hope to continue to learn from one another on ways to promote the well-being of our children,” said the Tinkle Friend team.
Children’s Society also promotes help-seeking behaviour among children through Our Mighty Minds workshops created by Oasis for Minds Services (a Child and Adolescent Mental Health team). The aim is to equip children with the knowledge to identify early signs of distress and empower them with help-seeking strategies and resources.
It is important that children recognise when self-reliance is appropriate and help-seeking is necessary. While children can be empowered, they will still need their parents to empathise with them, destigmatise mental health and foster precious help-seeking attitudes.
Our Mighty Minds also include a module specially designed for parents. If you are keen to learn more about these workshops for your children, community or workplaces, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
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