Forum: Working with youth to help youth

We thank Ms Porsche Poh and Mr Kwan Jin Yao for their ideas on improving youth mental well-being (Youth need new resources to help them navigate today's world, Feb 1; and Move beyond peer support to tackle mental health issues, Feb 1).

The National Youth Council (NYC) ran a series of engagements, ranging from the 2018 Youth Conversations to the current SG Youth Action Plan (SG YAP), which included digital polling to garner feedback from more diverse youth.

Many expressed a desire to see greater support for mental well-being in schools, workplaces and the wider community.

They hope for a society free of stigmatisation and that is much more accepting of people with mental health conditions.

The SG YAP panel is now exploring ideas suggested by our youth, such as building and equipping peer support networks, strengthening institutional support from schools and health agencies, as well as ground-up movements to shift our culture to be more open and inclusive.

The action plan is currently moving into an action phase, where groups of youth have organised themselves to ideate and develop solutions under the Youth Action Challenge. We are encouraged to see diverse youth stepping up to lead the change. For example, one of the 57 teams comprising students from tertiary institutions and young teachers proposed peer-to-peer initiatives in schools for youth to hold safe conversations and to develop and take ownership of their own help-seeking solutions.

NYC and volunteer young adult mentors are working with these teams to turn their ideas into actionable reality.

NYC also has platforms to grow ground-up initiatives (Young ChangeMakers) and partners youth-sector organisations (National Youth Fund) such as Campus PSY (Peer Support for Youth) and Limitless Singapore for the promotion of mental health awareness and support in the community.

There is more that we can do together as a society to improve youth mental health.

Youth mental well-being is an area where many hands are needed in a collective effort. NYC invites all Singaporeans to join in this collective effort at http://bit.ly/nyc-mentalhealth

Partnering citizens and youth and taking in suggestions will give us a much better shot at building an inclusive and progressive Singapore.

David Chua

Chief Executive Officer

National Youth Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2020, with the headline 'Working with youth to help youth'. Print Edition | Subscribe