August 27, 2020

Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is a big deal, but COVID-19 may have made it even more prominent.

I posted on my social media account about mental health, and I’m hurting to see some of my friends who are going through it as well.

Mental health is a connective behavioural and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes people use the mental health term to mean the absence of a mental disorder.

Signs of Mental Illness

  • Mood disorders such as depression,
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Food disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Trauma-related disorders such as PTSD
  • Substance abuse disorders.

People with mental disorders need constant counselling, love, care, support and time to heal.

Mental health in Singapore

Although we have one of the best health systems in the world and host some of the most healthy citizens in the world, it doesn’t translate to the mental health of individuals.

According to the institute of mental health, about 14% of Singaporeans have experienced disorders. The most common mental disorders in Singapore are PTSD, major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol abuse disorder, and excessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Also, individuals between age 18-34 are at higher risk of suffering mental illnesses. The rate of depression and anxiety in the Singaporean youth population has risen considerably over time. 18% of young Singaporeans suffer from depression.

Factors such as societal and academic pressures, unstable home life and puberty may cause an increased rate of depression in children and young adults as they try to navigate through life.

A lot of young people are depressed and may not know how to best communicate it. Inadequate support from loved ones may be the perfect recipe for an increase in youth suicide.

There’s a general notion that mental illness is for those who do not have a strong will. On the contrary, mental illness has a multifaceted cause. Some strong-willed people have experienced mental illness. Additionally, it takes so much strength to recover.

Nothing dismantles the stigmatization against this concept as quickly as acquiring the knowledge. We must learn, educate and enlighten ourselves on the issues of mental health.

Coping with Stigma and Opening Up

Think about who you’re sharing with. It’s about choice. What’s the outcome you want from the conversation. Think about that. Do you want this person to help you? Can this person help you?

If you want professional help, you’ll want to ask a family member that can help you with that. If it’s just about having the love and having somebody hold your hand then find the family member who can do that.

Michelle, a mental health coach, had to go through therapy and learnt to share her story publicly with people who identified with what she was going through. She received so much love from sharing, and that was part of her healing.

We all have this huge fear we carry, and we think if anybody knows they are going to hate us. We are all suffering silently in our own ways, but people are inherently good and want what’s best for us.

There’s stigma from people that don’t understand or don’t have experience. That’s why it’s our responsibility to talk about it so people can get an understanding.

There’s so much judgement when people should instead see the suffering and the pain. To understand that it’s not a person’s choice to be in that condition. It is an illness. We should, therefore, have more compassion.

Are You Concerned?  Someone Might Be Experiencing Mental Illness

First, build the trust and create the space for that person to just to talk. Then, tell them you are concerned that they don’t seem like themselves. Explain what differences you are observing to them and ask them to go see their doctor. You may offer to go to the doctor with them but just ask them to go get checked out.

Sometimes when we say I think you have depression that might put walls up because people don’t want to have that label. Be a partner with them throughout the journey in case of a diagnosis.

Mental Health Coaching

Mental health coaching means there are more avenues for people to open up. There are mental health coaches besides counsellors, psychiatrists and doctors. We have another channel where people who are suffering there’s always a coach to guide you. The coach works as your partner in helping you achieve your goals.

Stigma between the Western World and Asian and opening up on mental illness

Singapore falls in Asian culture. Asian culture finds it difficult to open up compared to western culture. In the Asian culture, people like stereotyping, especially from the seniors. This is where raising awareness comes in.

Creating awareness on mental health challenges in Singapore

Covid-19 has provided us time to focus on a lot of areas that might have not been looked upon. About stigma, things are changing. The millennials are coming out and opening up about some chosen topics. They’re creating a support structure for people that are facing mental illness, and that’s heartwarming.

Be that voice that we need because these mental illness issues are not going away any time soon. We require strong community support, and it all starts with education.

Advice to Parents in Singapore: Rising Cases of mental illness among youth and Children

Parents should look at it from the perspective of having a different relationship. Look at other possibilities of creating a relationship that treats the child as the young adult. Building trust and openness comes with being a friend besides being a parent. This creates an opportunity for the child to open up about the challenges he or she is facing.

Recommendations For Keeping Check of Our Mental Health in Covid-19 Period

  1. Having a connectionis vital. Call your friends. Reach out. Send a text message. Zoom call if you need to. Talking to a counsellor, a friend, or a loved one you trust can ease how you feel.
  2. Physical activity. Do any exercise you love. Exercises are essential as it releases the happy chemicals in our body. You’ll feel more energetic and healthier. Exercises have long been proven to be as effective as medications to aid your mental health. You can start with a 10-minute stroll outside your house.
  3. Finding wellness practice. Meditation and mindfulness are crucial. It’s good for calming our nervous system, especially now that things are so stressful.
  4. Do the things you love. Performing tasks that energizes, motivates and makes you feel good are a sure way to help you feel better. Performing simple, productive tasks, you enjoy such as writing, reading, scheduling, gardening or watching a movie will significantly increase your chances of being in a better state of mind.
  5. Eat healthily. Avoid foods that have adverse effects on your brain and mood. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine or processed foods with high preservatives. Instead, opt for more organic fresh foods and drink a lot of water.
  6. Get enough sleep. You may begin by making minor lifestyle changes. Rid yourself of all distractions: no computers, no smartphones, no Netflix. Set a regular sleep and wake up time every day. In due time, you may improve your sleep and mood.

These routine practices play a significant role in achieving recovery if you’re suffering from mental illness.

Catch the special episodes 6 to 8 on mental health awareness in my podcast! Happy Listening!


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