Give students accurate picture of mental health

A study released in 2011 by the Institute of Mental Health reported that most people who suffered from a mental illness had their first onset of illness when they were in their twenties.

The counsellors at Touch Community Services also shared that many of the youth they meet for counselling sessions have some form of mental health issue which, if left unmanaged, may lead to destructive behaviours like self-harm.

Some of the young people were not aware of their condition, while others were afraid to seek help for fear of being judged by their peers - because of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

To that end, it is important to empower our youth with knowledge about the topic.

Over the last three years, Touch Community Services has promoted mental health awareness in the community through the Light Of Hope-themed train and the Light Of Hope Run.

The Light Of Hope Run aims to raise public awareness and fight the social stigma related to depression and mental health.

It encourages people with mental health issues to step out of darkness into the light, with the support of loved ones and the community.

In October, we piloted the Do You M.I.N.D. programme specially for schools, exploring topics related to depression, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Designed as fun and interactive station activities, the programme guides students in taking practical steps to moderate eating habits and striving towards a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

We have had good feedback from schools and students, and plan to engage 7,500 more young people through schools over the next three years.

If we can put accurate knowledge of mental health into the minds of our young and shape their perspectives on the issue from an early age, we stand a better chance of building resilience in our youth and helping them cope better with stressors in life.

Pam Kaur (Ms) Manager, Mental Health Programme, Touch Community Services