Roping up with parents, ecosystem support schools, health news and top stories

SINGAPORE – When Mr. Jagathishwaran Rajo was in university, his mother was diagnosed with diabetes which became severe and required the amputation of both legs.

She became depressed and Mr. Jaga, as a household member who looked after her, began to feel the stress as well.

His extended family came to the rescue by providing strong support, and his community leaders cheered him on too.

This experience led Mr. Jaga, now 34, to recognize the importance of the various levels of support needed in difficult times – family and community support, in addition to individual resilience.

He is now one of two facilitators of Zhenghua Wellness, one of 22 projects of the Youth Mental Well-Being Network.

The idea for this came from Mr. Jaga, training officer in the industry, in the middle of last year. “We cannot look at the psychological wellbeing of young people in isolation; we have to look at the ecosystem in which parents and schools are two major players.”

Zhenghua Wellness is taking a two-pronged approach to addressing the problem, he said.

First, there will be webinars on mental wellbeing for residents who want to learn more about the topic. In October and November last year, three virtual sessions were held with around 150 participants.

Of these participants, 20 took a follow-up personal training session with case studies and role play to learn how to better support someone with mental health problems.

Of the 20, 12 were identified for a friendship program with the Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Center in Bukit Panjang, where she works with young residents who have agreed to community support.

Second, the project involved parent support groups from six neighborhood schools to offer mental health seminars to about 150 parents in August and September.

The seminars dealt with, among other things, how parents can involve their children and support them in a meaningful way, said Jaga.

He hopes more community programs will be initiated to further improve the mental health support ecosystem here.

“I hope we can remove the stigma on this issue,” he said.

“Well, some people who come out for financial aid feel less paiseh (hokkien for embarrassed) than when it comes to mental health issues. I want to call it something that everyone needs and that is an integral part of our lives. “

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