SINGAPORE - Undergraduate Sophia Sng, 23, suffered from frequent panic attacks in her teens but could not bring herself to tell her parents about what she was going through.
Three years ago, she mustered the courage to confide in them, and she now champions the cause of getting young people to forge stronger ties with their families.
Ms Sng said she felt a sense of relief once her parents knew what she was going through, and she was later able to seek professional help for her condition.
She said: "I remember feeling very tired, and I asked myself how much longer can I go through this without my parents knowing?
"I felt they needed to know what I was going through in order for me to take the next steps in getting support for my mental health."
Ms Sng, who declined to reveal which university she is studying at, was speaking at a dialogue during the FamChamps Be.Live Conference on Tuesday (May 25).
The conference is the first nationwide youth conference with a focus on the family, with about 600 young people from over 20 educational institutions attending the two-hour event.
Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, as well as Trade and Industry, said in his address that it was important to put young people at the centre of family discussions, and equip them with the resources to build strong families when the time comes later in life.
He said: "Youth can play such a pivotal role... to help families overcome adversity and strengthen inter-generational bonds especially during this time."
FamChamps is a community youth movement set up in 2014 by charity Focus on the Family Singapore. It aims to empower young people and help them make a positive impact on their families and communities.
In a survey of 2,300 young people last year, FamChamps found that 97 per cent of them believe family is important. It decided to organise the conference this year to help debunk the myth that young people are aloof towards their family, FamChamps said in a statement.
It added that young people can play a key role in building closer family ties, and help family members emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic, especially since families are hunkered down at home together.
Ms Jamie Lee, 21, president of FamChamps Council, spoke about her own experience in helping her family deal with a crisis. She said she is an undergraduate but did not want to reveal the name of her university.
She said: "When my parents filed for divorce, I was able to see beyond how the situation was affecting me to better support my parents and sister through their pain.
"Families need to be united and support each other. This is not the job or responsibility of just adults or parents, but youth at home have a very important part to play as well."
Rounding off the day's discussions, Mr Tan said: "Families are imperfect. But it is because of their imperfection that we learn how to be more gracious, humble, caring and forgiving.
"And these are the foundations that a caring and inclusive society is built upon."