Honesty not always the best policy for scholarship applicants

Honesty not always the best policy for scholarship applicants

MR Heng Cho Choon was right when he said that the selection criteria for scholarship holders should be more stringent and comprehensive ("Ensure scholarship holders are made of sterner stuff"; April 8).

Applicants should be sieved out if they are seen to possess some negative traits of personality and character, or even certain mental conditions.

However, the onset of many mental illnesses is characterised by social withdrawal and negative thoughts. And that young person would probably do his best to shield these from the selection panel.

Anyone who has gone for a job interview would know of the need to give only positive answers to questions. It is the same for scholarship interviews.

This will eventually lead to delays in treatment and proper management of any underlying mental condition the applicants may have.

It was also highlighted that most youth would rather suffer in silence than seek professional help and place their mental condition in the limelight ("Don't belittle depression among youth" by Mr Chow Zhi Wan; Forum Online, April 11).

In addition, they themselves might not realise that they are suffering from a mental condition until it is too late, as lack of insight is a classic hallmark of certain serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

I sympathise with people with mental illnesses who land on the wrong side of the law and are even jailed when they have not received proper treatment early enough.

Excessive stress is certainly a common trigger of mental illness ("Curse of the Stanford Duck Syndrome"; Sunday).

An overwhelming desire to succeed in studies or work and not let people down contributes to the accumulation of stress to such an extent that it clouds one's judgment.

In such a case, the person with the mental illness should be given appropriate treatment, instead of punishment for actions he has no control over.

Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong said that it is better for people applying for scholarships to come clean about their mental conditions ("Create buddy system to support scholarship holders"; last Thursday). However, they need to be given the assurance that they will not be denied the scholarship once they have decided to be honest.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

This article was first published on April 21, 2015.
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