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Mr Mohksin Rashid, Executive Director, AMP Singapore,

Mr Bryan Tan, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Fathering, DADs for Life and MUMS for Life,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good morning. I am excited to join all of you today for this year’s Parenting Seminar.

Importance of paternal involvement on children’s development

2. The key to a child’s development is the positive involvement of their parents during their growing up years. The role of each parent cannot be undermined; paternal involvement is as crucial as maternal involvement. The father’s involvement in parenting will benefit a child’s psychosocial and behavioural development, in different ways from maternal involvement.

3. The “Survey for Dads 2020” conducted by Focus on the Family, with support from the Centre for Fathering (CFF), revealed that fathers regarded their primary roles as teaching values and discipline to their children, and to be the breadwinner for the family. They often struggle in finding a good balance between work and family responsibilities, and at times, face difficulties in managing their children’s behaviours.

4. Despite these challenges, it is heartening to know that there has been an increasing global trend where fathers are taking on a more active role at home and in parenting. This is a good development as the involvement of the father has been found to benefit the child’s cognitive, emotional and social development. Specifically, research has found that these children tend to have better educational outcomes and are more able to regulate their emotions.

A positive mind is important for a healthy and fulfilling life

5. As parents, we cannot undermine the influence of our own mental wellness on our children. Daily interactions with our children create opportunities for them to build crucial skills, such as cultivating positive self-esteem, taking responsibility for their actions, and communicating with others in an empathic and effective way. Children with high social emotional intelligence will also be able to better manage their emotions and behaviours. They will be able to work well with others, and see themselves as useful members of the community, thereby forging a positive self-identity and sense of belonging.

6. The pandemic has brought mental wellness issues to the forefront, with more seeking help and support during this period. The Government has enhanced avenues for Singaporeans to keep healthy while staying safe as we transit towards a COVID-19 resilient nation.

7. To encourage individuals to seek help early and recognise the importance of self-care, we need to do more to raise awareness of mental well-being and health.

8. In August last year, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) launched the “Brave the New” campaign together with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to provide mental health tips for self-care and peer support. The campaigned reached over 2.1 million Singaporeans.

9. To complement this, the “Hi! #JustCheckingIn” initiative was started by HPB in January this year to encourage Singaporeans to reach out to and check in on their friends and family, and encourage them to seek help early if they feel overwhelmed.

10. To strengthen support for youths who are at risk of mental health issues, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has piloted the Integrated Youth Service (IYS) with the Institute of Mental Health, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and Care Corner since April last year. The IYS is a one-stop service where at-risk youths can access coordinated mental health and social support services, such as individualised basic emotional support, needs identification and befriending services.

11. Besides these new initiatives, HPB has also introduced school programmes and resources to support our students, educators and parents on mental well-being, such as assembly skits to help students manage challenges and stress, the Colours of the Mind mental wellbeing workshops for parents, as well as health tips and resources at HealthHub and ParentHub.

National Strategy on Child and Maternal Health and Well-being 

12. To support the overall health of our next generation, we have further stepped up our efforts to support children and their families. Since January this year, the Inter-agency Taskforce on Child and Maternal Health and Well-being has been deliberating on how we could provide more comprehensive and integrated support to families and children. We are developing a five-year strategy which will take a life-course approach, starting upstream from the pre-conception phase, till adolescence aged 18 years old to support parents and their children in attaining physical and mental wellness.

13. Specifically, we are looking at three key aspects:

o First, we are translating evidence-based findings into policies and programmes to enhance upstream preventive health efforts. This includes supporting prenatal and antenatal health and mental wellness for both mothers and fathers.

o Second, we are reviewing our service delivery processes to integrate services better across the health, social, and education domains. We will look at how the different agencies in the various domains can work together to provide more support and person-centric care to families.

o Third, we need to raise awareness and better engage stakeholders like you to work together with us to keep your children healthy. We are doing this by providing resources and tools to equip parents with the knowledge and skills to foster healthy living habits and nudge positive behaviours in their children.

Better Support for our Ethnic Minority Groups

14. On the Malay Muslim community front, we are also taking steps to improve the health of our community. I have the honour of leading a workgroup, formed in February this year, alongside my colleagues, Members of Parliament Wan Rizal and Mariam Jaafar. The workgroup hopes to encourage our Malay community to adopt healthier habits, through culturally relevant programmes and tips.

15. Our efforts are also supported by HPB, together with our valuable partners, such as the People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), Mendaki and the Muslim Healthcare Professionals Association.


16. In closing, let me thank those who have made today’s webinar possible. I would like to acknowledge the good work of the CFF and AMP Singapore, who have been important partners in our journey in building healthier families and children. Through their efforts in supporting families, many Singaporean families have benefitted, particularly those in the Malay-Muslim community. 

17. Parents play a fundamental role in our child’s development. By supporting the mental wellness of parents, we are also supporting the social, emotional and mental well-being of our children.

18. In this regard, the government’s efforts alone would not be sufficient, and each of us needs to play our part. Let us continue to practise self-care and support those around us, to build a better future for our next generation. 

19. Thank you.

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