PUTRAJAYA: Counselling for children must begin from as early as school-level, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She said it is crucial for either parents, teachers, and friends to identify and help students who need counselling services.

According to the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey, a total of 39.7 per cent of teenagers suffer from anxiety, following by depression (18.3 per cent) and stress (9.6 per cent), she added.

These, she said, are three major mental conditions suffered by teenagers at school.

Counselling, said Dr Wan Azizah, is an important need right now as society moves towards Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), where people will be faced with mental and psychological challenges.

"It is also hoped that counselling services can be enhanced and optimised by the people. To achieve this, the stigma over counselling services has to change," she said at the launch of National Counselling Month today.

Dr Wan Azizah said counsellors must be effectively trained in the field of counselling such as being empathetic, as well as possess high listening and responsive skills.

"Intervention undertaken by trained and skilled counsellors will be able to help and recover an individual's emotional state," she added.

Dr Wan Azizah also advised counsellors to take care of their psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

She said trained counsellors must register under Counsellors Act 1998 (Act 580).

"As of Aug 31, there are 8,773 registered counsellors in the country.

"This means, there is one counsellor per 3,716 people. The gap is still big, considering the social problems we are faced with now," she added.

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Dr Wan Azizah also advised counsellors to take care of their psychological, emotional and physical well-being. NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR