Teenagers can struggle with exploring their emotions, cultivating self-awareness and developing coping mechanisms for various aspects of their lives. Supporting its Secondary students with counselling and care is important to the International French School (IFS) in Singapore. They’ve established a new Counselling Department, including the IFS Counselling Centre. It’s a safe and friendly environment where students can express themselves. They can also receive non-judgemental counselling for youth support in different facets of life.
School counsellors and psychologists offer compassionate guidance and personalised care support for teenagers in both individual and group sessions. These are tailor-made to address the unique needs of the mental health of students in Singapore. The aim is to help them ultimately succeed academically, socially and emotionally.
The school counselling team – Piramala Maratheyah, Natasha Jacob and Laura Tarsia – also works closely with parents and educators. This ensures a comprehensive counselling and care support system for each student through preventive and awareness-building initiatives.
What types of counselling and care can students approach you for?
Whether they need someone to talk to about personal, social issues, academic concerns or just need a listening ear, we’re here with support for teenagers. Our goal is to create a safe, inclusive and confidential space where students can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and emotions and receive guidance.
If a student is shy, how can they reach out to the centre?
Students can come to counselling and care sessions with a trusted friend or adult, which gives them a sense of support. Counselling for youths can also be done online.
What are some common issues affecting the mental health of students in Singapore?
The most common are friendship issues, poor conflict resolution skills, self-identity, pressure from family, lack of social skills, low self-esteem, poor coping mechanisms, academic stress and emotional dysregulation.
Could you give a quick tip for students who might be facing different challenging scenarios?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by daily school work: Create a schedule that has enough time for school work and self-care. Scheduling will reduce procrastination; self-care is essential to reduce stress.
If you’re uncertain about your future: Take it one step at a time – the first step being to reach out to trusted adults to explore the field you’re interested in and gather more information. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals to focus on self-improvement.
If you’re navigating friendships: Voice out your feelings, understand, empathise and listen to each other.
About the IFS Counsellors
Piramala has been working with students for over 20 years. Her many qualifications include a Masters in Professional Counselling, certified Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths, and certified Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. Her approach to counselling for youth and support for teenagers is aimed at fostering personal growth, resilience and wellbeing. This is by utilising evidence-based techniques and a holistic perspective using the Positive Youth Development framework for children and adolescents.
Laura has worked with students for over 10 years, learning over time that asking the right questions can be more helpful than providing answers. She supports parents and teachers in understanding and preventing the challenges experienced in adolescence and school life. Laura has a Masters in Psychodynamic Counselling, a Masters in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, Full Clinical Training in psychotherapy and is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Natasha holds a Masters in Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling, Guidance and Family Therapy. She has worked with students of different ages including providing support for teenagers for five years. She firmly believes in empowering students to take ownership of their own personal and academic goals. Natasha goes by the quote: “Focus on helping the child and not on fixing them.”
This article first appeared in the November 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
To make the most of living in Singapore, read our latest City Guide here for free!