More young people supporting peers with mental health issues

Youth participants during a Youth Conversations dialogue session on Mental Health. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - Young people are taking mental health issues in hand by forming ground-up initiatives to raise awareness of the stigma attached and to reach out to their peers in distress.

These arose from the Youth Conversations dialogues the National Youth Council (NYC) held last year on mental health, which was attended by 50 people.

Two of them subsequently started a series of mental wellness workshops this year to help young adults exercise self-care and mindfulness to cope with their hectic lives, said the NYC in a new online report on the Youth Conversations series held over several months in 2018.

More than 30 young people have attended the Slowing Down workshops under the initiative called the School of Ability and Recovery (Soar). The pair will conduct a fourth workshop on safe spaces this month, and details will be available on Soar's Facebook page.

The dialogue series, which includes an online poll, saw all the 170 youth who took part in the survey saying that more support in schools and workplaces is needed for young people struggling with mental health issues.

The other initiative is a panel of young people who will give feedback on the Health Promotion Board's ongoing mental wellness programmes.

A peer support group launched in 2017, called Campus PSY, reaches out to youth in tertiary institutions and workplaces who prefer not to seek professional help.

Campus PSY was registered as a non-profit organisation last month.

So far, 50 Campus PSY youth volunteers have received three months of training from mental health professionals to recognise mental health disorders as well as on the ethics and boundaries of peer-helping.

On top of supporting their peers in school, they also spend time with patients at the Institute of Mental Health every week.

With funding from the Singapore Tote Board, the group will set up an e-mail portal early next year for young people in distress who want to remain anonymous.

The volunteers will interact with them via e-mail, and guide them to where they can seek help.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.