Teachers: Frontliners to Students’ Mental Health Wellbeing

Alluding to the adage “it takes a village to raise a child”, the PINTAR – UTAR Mental Health Programme is a collaboration between PINTAR Foundation, multiple ministries, hospitals, mental health experts, school teachers and counsellors as well as Yayasan Hasanah. 

Its aim: equipping teachers with basic mental health knowledge and ways to address issues relating to it. 

Norzalina Masom, PINTAR Foundations General Manager says, Teachers are mental health frontliners. They interact a lot with students and are most likely to notice any problems,adding that decreased academic performance, violent tendencies and substance abuse could be some indicators. 

Yuan Meng Yong (Cikgu Yuan) a Guidance and Counselling teacher in SMK St. Columba, Miri was one the 60 participants.  

“Students crave more familial love and support. They often feel adults only care about their academic achievements and that their only purpose is to fulfil such wishes,” Cikgu Yuan explains. 

When face-to-face lessons resumed, he noticed students were more reserved due to the lack of human connection and social interaction during the pandemic. 

Mental health is a core focus of the Education Impact Area and rightfully so. 

“Malaysia has 1 psychiatrist per 100,000 people, 10 times behind the ratio of 1:10,000 in developed countries,” Education Lead Dr. Nur Anuar Abdul Muthalib points out. 

Considering the often long waiting time for treatment, it is hoped that teachers can step in to assist students during this crucial adolescent period of mental, emotional and social growth.