Fei Yue Community Services has been providing online counselling services for youths since 2004 to reach out to youths who might be hesitant to seek help due to the stigma attached to seeking help. This study looks at (i) youth cyber trends, (ii) youths’ receptivity towards online counselling, (iii) the experiences of youths who are engaged in online counselling, and (iv) the elements which are helpful for an online counselling service. 1133 participants aged 9-30 from various educational levels were surveyed, and 12 of Fei Yue’s online counselling clients were interviewed online.
Firstly, findings show that youths were comfortable with the internet, and use it often for online gaming and social networking. Secondly, only half would consider attending a counselling session. This could be due to insufficient knowledge about counselling and the stigma associated with it. Thirdly, most youths, especially primary school students, were comfortable with counselling via online chat. Lastly, online counselling users found that the main benefits of online counselling were privacy and a less confronting environment. Evidence from this study suggests that there is a growing niche for online counselling in Singapore, especially among the primary school students.