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Promoting mental well-being for young parents: Insights from Dr Ong Mian Li


13 October 2023

Image courtesy: Pexels

On World Mental Health Day, Dr Ong Mian Li, consultant for NTUC First Campus‘s (NFC) Mental Health Programme and principal clinical child and adolescent psychologist at Lightfull Psychology, shed light on the stresses young parents in Singapore face, and shared strategies to cope.

In an interview with CNA 938, Dr Ong shared invaluable tips on how young parents can effectively juggle work and the demands of raising little ones, while maintaining their mental health.

Dr Ong Mian Li, consultant for NTUC First Campus’s (NFC) Mental Health Programme and principal clinical child and adolescent psychologist at Lightfull Psychology

Identifying Causes of Stress

Dr Ong categorised the stresses faced by parents into three distinct types: child-focused stress which revolves around issues like screen time management and bedtime routines, self-focused stress related to the guilt parents often feel when trying to achieve a work-life balance and other stresses such as differences in parenting styles and communication needs.

Nurturing Physical and Social Well-being

“Happy parents make happy homes”, said Dr Ong. Parenting is a long journey and Dr Ong encouraged parents to take care of themselves and manage their stress through fun family bonding activities, like dance parties or superhero stretches with the family. Dr Ong added that NFC’s virtual and physical programmes, such as group exercises and field trips to the zoo, offer opportunities for such parent-child engagement.

Fostering social and community connections by joining local parent groups to share stories and tips also helps combat feelings of isolation. Dr Ong  shared how NFC actively promotes in-person sessions for parents to connect in the workshops he has been running the past two years.

Dr Ong also urged parents not to forget their own interests and passions. Checking in with local community centres to sign up for courses can be an excellent self-care strategy.

Strategies for Effective Communication 

Emphasising that maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship requires effective communication, Dr Ong suggested parents show their love loudly through spending quality time together with their children, praising them and showing a genuine interest in the things that matter to them. Actively listening to what their children have to say and understanding their perspectives also help them feel understood and heard.

Modelling Behaviour for Children

Dr Ong emphasised the importance of parents being mindful of how they respond to stress in front of their children. “Children pick up cues on how parents respond to stress. Being aware of your reactions is crucial.” 

He added that parents should be consistent in their actions, as this reinforces the values children learn from them, and to pause and reflect before responding to situations to prevent escalation.

Strengthening Resilience with NTUC First Campus

As part of a broader initiative to support the mental well-being of parents and guardians, NFC has been conducting a series of workshops. Led by Dr Ong, the workshops serve to strengthen the socio-emotional resilience of parents and guardians, especially for children from low-income and vulnerable families.

Media Coverage

CNA938 Radio (10 Oct 2023)

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