More than a year since the death of a student at River Valley High School (RVHS) on July 19, 2021, the school has become "an even more closely-knit caring community", said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
Chan said that there has been strong support from its teachers and staff, the Parent-Teacher Association and stakeholders, since the incident.
Measures have had positive effect on RVHS students and staff: Chan
In a written reply, Chan responded to questions posed by Yio Chu Kang Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng and Sengkang MP He Ting Ru of the Workers' Party on the effectiveness of measures taken to enhance the mental health of the school community since the incident a year ago.
They also asked if the learning points from the RVHS incident will be shared with other schools.
Chan replied that school leaders and teachers have actively engaged students identified with learning and social-emotional needs, and have been looking out for those who may need additional support.
He also noted that the school's peer support structure has become stronger, and that students have been looking out for their peers' well-being and supporting them.
RVHS also has more counsellors who conduct regular mental well-being talks for students.
"Students and staff have designed and transformed spaces in the campus, as well as school events and programmes, to create a warm and inviting environment," Chan observed.
He said that these measures have had a positive impact on RVHS students and staff.
Where applicable, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will share these good practices with other schools, Chan added.
MOE teachers trained in mental health literacy, more help-seeking in students observed
Chan also provided an update on MOE's mental health efforts that he announced in his ministerial statement last year.
Chan said that since July 2021, MOE has stepped up its efforts to recruit more school counsellors and identified suitable teachers to undergo training in counselling skills to serve as teacher counsellors.
These teacher counsellors will work alongside the school counsellors.
Chan said MOE has also improved their teachers' mental health literacy.
Teachers are trained to recognise symptoms related to common mental health issues, and are equipped with strategies to de-escalate strong emotions and impulsive behaviour.
Schools have also set aside time at the start of every term for teachers to check in on their students.
In Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) lessons, teachers also help to facilitate conversations on mental health, and provide students the space to voice their concerns.
In all schools, peer support structures have been implemented to enable students to look out for one another.
Chan said that since these measures were implemented, the ministry has observed more help-seeking by students, whether it was for themselves or their peers.
Well-being of teaching staff of "paramount importance"
Chan also said that the well-being of teaching staff is of "paramount importance" to MOE.
"We monitor the sentiments and morale of our teachers closely and will continue to strengthen the culture of care in our schools," he said.
MOE is provided additional funding to Staff Well-Being Committees so they can improve staff well-being efforts.
Most schools also have at least one Wellness Ambassador, a peer whom a teacher can approach to for support, other than the school's leaders and reporting officers.
On security measures, Chan said that MOE regularly reviews and updates them.
Emergency drills, such as fire and lockdown drills, are practised at least twice a year with students.
"MOE is committed to ensuring the well-being and safety of our students and teachers. We will continue to refine our efforts, in collaboration with relevant partners," Chan added.
If you or someone you know are in mental distress, here are some hotlines you can call to seek help, advice, or just a listening ear:
Samaritans Of Singapore (SOS) 24-hour Hotline: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute of Mental Health: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (for primary school-aged children)
Top photo via Chan Chun Sing/FB and Ashley Tan