$100k of new mental health fund for peer initiatives

The BlueStar* Fund, for those aged between 10 and 16, lets young people help one another

Present at the launch of the fund were (from left) Mr Martin Tan, executive director of The Majurity Trust; Mr Alvin Lim, chief financial officer for Musim Mas Holdings; Mr Delane Lim, founder of Character and Leadership Academy; and Mr Desmond Lee,
Present at the launch of the fund were (from left) Mr Martin Tan, executive director of The Majurity Trust; Mr Alvin Lim, chief financial officer for Musim Mas Holdings; Mr Delane Lim, founder of Character and Leadership Academy; and Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

A new $1 million fund aimed at addressing mental health issues among young people here will set aside a total of $100,000 for peer-run initiatives.

The Musim Mas BlueStar* Fund was launched yesterday from the $1 million donation by palm oil company Musim Mas Holdings at the 12th Global Youth Leaders Summit, which was held virtually this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Musim Mas Holdings is collaborating with philanthropic organisation The Majurity Trust to provide grants to non-profit organisations as well as the young people themselves to support programmes that help those who face mental health issues.

Executive director of The Majurity Trust Martin Tan said: "The best people to reach out to young people facing mental health issues are the young people themselves."

He added: "BlueStar* follows the theme 'You Matter' and this 'you' can refer to both those suffering from these issues as well as the friends that are there when they are needed the most."

While details are still being ironed out, for now, the grant is aimed at catering to those aged between 10 and 16. Each project can receive up to $5,000.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said at the launch: "Young people are deeply concerned with psychological and mental well-being... and many (of them) sometimes feel a bit helpless as to what they can or cannot do.

"They want to be armed with the skill sets and the knowledge, and more importantly, to be empowered to do something, so (the fund) will provide support and funding."

For Musim Mas Holdings chief financial officer and executive director Alvin Lim, the decision to donate $1 million to this cause was a personal one. When he was 19, one of his friends committed suicide, igniting his passion to remove the stigma around discussing mental health issues.

He said: "In Singapore, we like to be very competitive and talk about how good our kids are, so we don't want to talk about these issues.

"But it's precisely issues like these we should be facing so we can tell our kids that they are not alone and that there is hope."

 
 
 

Mr Lee said there is a greater urgency to provide support for mental health issues, citing a poll by National Youth Council of 1,500 people aged between 16 and 34 which showed that nearly half of the respondents felt their mental health was worsened amid the pandemic.

Aside from projects that tackle mental health issues, a portion of the fund will go to a separate grant for programmes run by non-profit organisations. A third portion will be used to support research, public awareness initiatives and intervention and educational programmes.

Ms Mursalina Ismail, 22, who heads the manpower department at social development enterprise FutuReady Asia, shared her experience on young people facing mental health issues.

She said: "Sometimes they don't have strong family support at home, so we have to let them know that they matter, regardless of what they are going through in life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2020, with the headline '$100k of new mental health fund for peer initiatives'. Print Edition | Subscribe