Singapore, August 18, 2020 – The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) has partnered the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to roll out two programmes to build and grow the youth mentoring community and spread awareness of mental health to the community. This is in line with the nation’s effort to better support youths’ mental health and well-being.
The RIPPLES Mentoring Programme@North West and Project Video Befriender equip participants with knowledge and skills in tackling mental health, and specialised videography skills to produce documentaries as powerful tools to promote community awareness of youth mental health issues respectively.
The uniqueness of the programmes lies in their focus on mental health advocacy through Community Engagement (CE) and using mentoring as key driver for personal growth and development. CE is a non-academic graduation requirement, and RIPPLES mentees can use this project to meet their graduation requirement.
Ms Cynthia Chang, Head (Office of Service-Learning & Community Engagement), Centre for Experiential Learning at SUSS, said: “SUSS is glad to partner SAMH to roll out these two programmes for social good. This will help build a greater pool of youth mentors with the expertise to provide peer support in group settings, and at the same time, promote a stronger culture of youth advocacy for mental health awareness. We hope this eco-system creates a positive ripple effect on the community, when these mentees ‘graduate’ as mentors and contribute back to society.”
Ms Serene Goh, senior programme executive of SAMH Creative Services, said: “Project Video Befriender is an innovative way to engage students interested in the fabric of human society, to provide them the exposure to human stories and convey the responsibility and power that documentary filmmakers have, over the people they seek to represent.”
RIPPLES Mentoring Programme @ North West
Started in April 2020, the RIPPLES programme is a 9-month pilot mentoring collaboration project that SUSS started with SAMH Creative SAY! (CSAY). The programme aims to help aspiring youth mentors provide peer support to the growing number of youths with social, emotional or situational challenges.
“Currently, we have nine mentees from SUSS and CSAY, and four part-time SUSS students recruited as mentors in this programme. The mentors are social work and human resource management students who are working in the youth development, social enterprise, and human resources sector,” said Ms Chang.
Under the RIPPLES programme, the mentors and programme staff will coach the mentees and build their knowledge and skills in mental health and community engagement through three key components:
- On-going small group mentoring
- Learning sessions / talks on mental health / community engagement
- Applied component whereby the mentees need to implement a community engagement project they are passionate about
SUSS and CSAY started their learning sessions on mental health in June 2020. These informative sessions covered topics on self-development, developing positive relationships, community engagement, communication strategies, and unlearn stigmatisation towards mental health.
“I wanted to step out of my comfort zone to learn more about the mental health sector which I am unfamiliar with. The idea of having the autonomy in planning a programme that can benefit the community makes this project even more meaningful. This differentiates the programme from other typical volunteering experiences,” said Ms Valerie Tan, 21, a youth mentee of the RIPPLES programme and SUSS Year 2 full-time social work student.
“When I was presented the opportunity by SUSS to be a mentor in this RIPPLES programme, I resonated with it and saw it as a chance to bring positive change to the community. In the areas of mental health, symptoms are often not easily detected and there are many who journey alone in silence. I hope to empower more mentees through this programme to help guide others through their life challenges,” said Ms Cynthia Ng, 25, a youth mentor of the RIPPLES programme and SUSS part-time social work student.
Project Video Befriender
Project Video Befriender is a peer mentor-based community engagement project by a joint team of SUSS and CSAY staff.
Started in April 2020, this project aims to produce a documentary video to showcase the students’ reflections about dealing with mental health issues in the community.
“The team of six youths has bonded while producing the video and discovered more about mental health through the learning sessions and observation opportunities. With guidance from SUSS and SAMH staff, the youths gained insights and skillsets necessary for producing the video,” said Ms Chang.
“While growing up, I have seen how negatively one’s mental health can affect one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. My role as a befriender is to provide a safe and enjoyable space for the youths to regulate their mental and emotional well-being. Through the process, I have also learnt how to manage my own stress levels and mental well-being. Attending the sessions was like a temporary space for me to feel calm and relaxed especially after a tiring day of online classes,” said Ms Syahira Putri, 21, participant of Project Video Befriender and a SUSS Year 2 full-time early childhood education student.
"Having had absolutely no experience in filming and video editing, I have found a new way to share mental health messages to the public. On top of that, I was very heartened and motivated by the mental health conversations and experiences I had with the other participants. It's nice to make friends with other like-minded youths who care a great deal about mental health issues and embark on this project together with them,” said Ms Aisha Redzuwan, a participant of Project Video Befriender and an active youth mental health advocate.
Through documenting youths’ narratives on how they relate to different aspects of mental health and well-being, the programme hopes to drive a message for youths to look inward, uncover and recognise their own unique strengths and assets. By doing so, they will be able to better understand their own fortitude, tapping on them to contribute to the larger community.
For this particular project, the team has decided to present a film that features their own mental health journey from being a patient to being an active advocate for mental health issues. They hope to inspire others on a similar journey to garner courage in their process of recovery and allow the general public to view mental health in a positive light.
This collaboration between SUSS and SAMH helps build up more first-response capabilities in the mental health landscape among youths, as young people are more likely to turn to their friends than their parents, teachers or supervisors. The programmes are supported by North West Community Development Council (NWCDC).
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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS is a university with a rich heritage in providing lifelong, learner-centric and industry-relevant education. Our mission is to champion lifelong education to develop future thinkers and leaders to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness of the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.
We offer more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes which are flexible, modular and multi-faceted in learning experience to cater to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. We also launched a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills and knowledge upgrading of our workforce.
Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:
- S R Nathan School of Human Development
- School of Business
- School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
- School of Law
- School of Science and Technology
To date, over 35,000 graduates have chosen SUSS as their university of choice. Each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.
From 1 April 2019, the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) became an autonomous institute of SUSS. Both entities enable a synergistic collaboration as IAL brings to SUSS its expertise and experience in adult learning and Continuing Education and Training (CET), while SUSS provides an ecosystem of resources and experts rooted in academic rigour.
For more information on SUSS, please visit www.suss.edu.sg.
About the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
Established in 1968, the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) is a non-profit and non-government social service agency that provides a comprehensive range of mental health services, which include rehabilitative, outreach and creative services, to the community in Singapore. SAMH aims to reintegrate persons with mental health issues back into society through community-based mental health programmes and services that provide rehabilitative care for these individuals, and support for their families and caregivers. With a vision to promote mental wellness for all, SAMH is committed to improve the lives of, and promote acceptance and respect for, persons with mental health issues and improve the mental resilience of the community.
In 2018, SAMH celebrated its 50th anniversary where the Association pledged its commitment to step up efforts and address the growing challenge of mental health issues among the people, young and old.
For more information on SAMH, please visit: www.samhealth.org.sg