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#BetterTogether: An Initiative To Raise Awareness And Drive Collective Action For Mental Health In Singapore

30 Apr 2022 3 min read

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1-in-2 Singaporean youths are unwilling to seek help for their mental health struggles. Calling for greater awareness of mental health issues and collective action to uplift one another in our society, the People’s Action Party launched #BetterTogether today.

Led by Minister Chan Chun Sing, Minister of State Sun Xueling, and Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Wan Rizal, the initiative builds upon the Party’s past and existing efforts in the community and parliament to champion mental health literacy, support and de-stigmatisation.

Underscoring the importance of the topic, Minister Chan said, “Mental health struggles can affect us all. #BetterTogether reiterates the People’s Action Party’s commitment towards mental health and building a resilient Singapore that can continue thriving amid adversity. We want to rally all to take action and advocate a paradigm shift with us so that no one is alone in his or her journey of recovery.”

Together with its youth wing, the Young PAP, the Party will continue its effort to engage community support groups, domain experts and the Singaporean public under the ambit of #BetterTogether. From surveying perspectives and collecting feedback, to plenary sessions and dialogues on mental health and well-being, the Party aims to consolidate ground concerns and proposals for legislative and policy changes in this regard.

Today’s #BetterTogether roundtable gathered some of Singapore’s key mental health organisations and thought leaders. The robust discussion covered perspectives on three salient aspects:

  1. building personal capacity in safeguarding one’s mental health and well-being;
  2. generating awareness and cultivating understanding of mental health resources available within the community; as well as
  3. the need for the destigmatisation of mental health and cultivating an inclusive society that is more accepting of people with mental health conditions.

Insights from a recent mental health survey by activists from Young PAP involving more than 600 respondents were also unveiled. Overwhelmingly, more than 90% of those surveyed would like to see more being done for mental health in our society. They reinforced past national surveys on the topic and affirmed the goals of the initiative (survey findings can be found in Annex A).  Key observations include:

  • Some 80% of the respondents know of someone who has experienced mental health struggles. 2-in-5 of those surveyed have personally experienced mental health struggles. This number increased to 1-in-2 for the youths surveyed.
  • More than 70% of the respondents concurred that there is a lack of awareness of the issues associated with mental health.
  • However, more than 70% of our respondents do not feel equipped to help or support someone else who is struggling from mental health problems.
  • More than 90% of those surveyed concurred that the effects of mental health illnesses are often undermined or dismissed, with 70% attesting to these incidents.
  • Many respondents shared their fears and stigmas relating to mental health, with more than 50% of our respondents reflecting their unwillingness to discuss their problems openly with others. This number is also higher for our youths with more than 60% reflecting this sentiment.

Highlighting the need for a whole-of-society effort on this matter, Minister of State Sun Xueling said, “Mental Health is a deeply personal issue but it is also one that extends beyond the individual because a person’s life is so intricately interwoven into those around him or her. How do we ensure that there is a helping hand before one steps into the abyss of despair? It is paramount that we create a circle of care and support around individuals. Our organisations supporting mental health in the community are working very hard on the ground and we are partnering them to strengthen understanding of mental health issues, develop resources and recommendations to strengthen the ecosystem of support and de-stigmatize conversations around mental health. Each and every one of us can be a beacon of light and a safe harbour for those struggling with mental health issues. We can be better together.”

Dr Wan Rizal, Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC, echoed this belief that everyone can and must lean in to uplift each other’s mental health and well-being. He said, “A key tenet of #BetterTogether is to showcase how everyone can play a part in advocating for and destigmatising mental health. We are heartened to see the local community aligning themselves with this cause and engendering lively discussions about our mental health, across both offline and online spaces. Through these community partnerships, I hope more organisations and individuals, especially youths, are inspired to lean in and play a part in creating a strong societal support network for all.”