‘Suicidal’ teenagers prompt counsellor drive

The Ministry of Education has pledged to recruit an additional 200 school counsellors, after a World Health Organisation survey revealed more than 12% of 13 to 15-year-olds had considered suicide in the last year.

  • E-Mail
By  Joanne Bladd Published  August 29, 2006

The Ministry of Education has pledged to recruit an additional 200 school counsellors, after a World Health Organisation survey revealed more than 12% of 13 to 15-year-olds had considered suicide in the last year. The global school-based student health survey (GSHS), conducted in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an international questionnaire that assesses risk factors among teenagers aged 13 to 15 years. 15,790 expat and national teenagers across the UAE participated in the study. The results showed that more than 12% of teens surveyed had “seriously” considered attempting suicide. 14% of students admitted they felt lonely most of the time and more than 6% said they had no close friends. Now, Ministry officials have rolled out plans to ensure all government schools have at least one counsellor for every 250 students. Dr Ahmad Al Khayat, manager of the social welfare and psychology department, said: “The role of social counsellors is to guide and coach students. “Approximately 900 social counsellors currently work in various government schools, but some schools are short of specialists. We are working to make sure each facility has a counsellor to help create a better environment for students.” Khadija Al Hussaini, director of Dubai’s education zone, the city’s private education authority, said each school has an obligation to employ a professional counsellor to support students. “We understand life puts pressure on every individual, young or adult, and some of them need guidance and counselling. It is the duty of every school operator to have someone who can do that,” she added. When questioned about parental intervention, Al Hussaini added it was “very important” to include parents in the counselling process. “If a school notes a specific condition with a student, they should consult the parents and ask them to observe the child,” she said. “If both parties agree something is not right, proper care and attention should be given. “Schooling should not be limited to education, but should be a place for general welfare too.” Figures from the study also revealed that more than 11% of the teens surveyed were overweight and 21% were at risk for becoming overweight. 40% of students admitted to watching three or more hours of television a day, with only 19% managing an hour of physical activity per day.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code