Life Skills Key to Child-Friendly and Health-Promoting Environment

1 November 2020
Feature

Meet Dr Anne-Claire Stona, a Medical Doctor (MD) specialised in public health and global mental health. Dr Anne-Claire Stona is passionate about mental health, in particular positive mental health and well-being. She has contributed in designing public health strategies and policies through the adoption of innovative interventions and emerging technologies. Prior to her work in Singapore, she was as a medical advisor for youth mental health at the Ministry of Health in France. She worked in promoting social and emotional skills of the children, adolescents and adults caring for the youths through positive psychology, positive education and mindfulness-based interventions.

Developing life skills as a public health priority

She believes that developing life skills of the general population should be a public health priority. Life skills include cognitive, social and emotional skills and are defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour, that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. In particular, life skills are a group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathise with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.” Life skills are an essential component of a child-friendly and health-promoting environment.

Research studies have shown that developing life skills not only improves the well-being and mental health of the youths and the people caring for them (diminution of suicide rate, depression anxiety, substance abuse) but also increases school performance, improves the quality of the relationships with others (family members, educators…) and decreases conduct disorders. This could also address some of the consequences of too much screen time (lack of attention, lack of self-esteem...).

Life skills promotion should therefore gather stakeholders from different backgrounds (education, health, justice, social and family development and youth) to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

At a time where we face so much uncertainty and challenges, the development of these life skills in youths and adults caring for them will be an effective and sustainable answer in the long run.

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