Causes Week 2021: Youth's death spurs new initiative to look out for one another

Causes Week, which is into its 10th iteration, runs this year from Dec 21 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community, for children and youth, in sports and arts, among others.

Sikh Welfare Council management committee member Sarabjeet Singh with the resource kits that address mental health concerns. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The suicide of a young person in their community last year spurred the Sikh Welfare Council (Siwec) to start an initiative empowering family members and friends to be "eyes and ears", looking out for individuals around them who may be struggling with mental health concerns.

Launched on Oct 30, Theek Thak or "All Ok?" was the culmination of a year's effort by Siwec members along with therapists, counsellors and other grassroots level organisations.

Siwec provides educational support, family support services and eldercare services among other services to the Sikh community, as well as non-Sikhs in Singapore.

Siwec's chairman, Mr Harmit Singh, said community organisations need to take the lead in promoting conversations about mental health.

"The biggest aim of this initiative is to destigmatise mental health issues. We must acknowledge that the chances of people coming forward for help are low, so it takes a village, the people around them, to look out for signs that someone needs help," he added.

The initiative directs users on social media to the resources that they can use to get help, including Siwec's own counselling services.

The team also created a resource kit, available in English online or printed in small quantities, that discusses myths and facts around several mental health concerns including post-partum depression, anxiety and grief. It also includes an assessment scale for readers to judge their own mental health.

About 4,000 copies of the 28-page booklet in both Punjabi and English were also distributed to the Sikh gurdwaras and the Singapore Khalsa Association.

Mr Sarabjeet Singh, management committee member at Siwec, said the kits were developed with the need to reach out to people from diverse backgrounds in mind. He said Siwec hoped to collaborate with other organisations to come up with new editions of the kit.

Siwec also looped in other social service organisations to conduct Instagram Live sessions discussing mental health concerns of couples, children and youth.

Mr Ranjit Singh, the manager of Siwec and one of the counsellors who man the organisation's 24-hour hotline, said Theek Thak wants to provide easy access to information on mental health.

He said: "How successfully we are able to provide support depends on many factors which includes timely intervention, a caring environment of loved ones and friends, and also access to resources that individuals may need on their recovery."

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said Theek Thak was launched on Sept 30. Siwec has clarified that the correct date is Oct 30.

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