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Empowering Mental Wellness: 2023 SUSS Provost 3H Fund – Community Impact Award Winner

The Mental Wellness Toolkit @ North West CDC—a concise guide developed by the SUSS PsyConnect student Interest Group, was awarded the 2023 SUSS Provost 3H Fund – Community Impact Award (CIA). This award recognises and spotlights the positive impact of SUSS students' collaborative efforts within the community.

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Team members of Mental Wellness Toolkit @ North West CDC project at the award ceremony 

The impetus for the toolkit started out during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it aims to equip caregivers and North West Mental Wellness Ambassadors with essential tools and skills to identify, engage and support themselves and others with mental health challenges. While the pandemic halted many volunteering activities, Bryan Chan, the advisor and ex-president of PsyConnect shared, “We still wanted to have some activities that contribute to the mental health landscape during the pandemic”. Within the toolkit, mental wellness comes to life through the narratives of everyday Singaporeans coping with mental health challenges. The toolkit also spotlights the wide array of mental health support and providers available in the North West District.

Darren Leong, the current general secretary of PsyConnect, highlighted this advantage and shared, “Having prior knowledge from our Psychology programme helped a lot. Without a base understanding when researching, it is hard to understand and explain in simpler terms for the toolkit”. While the team’s skillsets and knowledge as Psychology students proved invaluable in curating the toolkit, they faced challenges with people's receptiveness in the beginning. Bryan explained, “We thought very hard about tweaking the toolkit to be useful for more people. Some people were not so receptive to the toolkit but some people were receptive to it. Speaking to the stakeholders and receiving encouragement for our initiative – that helped drive us”.

Fortunately, they overcame it through collaborations with multiple stakeholders including the North West CDC, faculty members of the SUSS Psychology Programme, various mental health organisations and social service agencies. These collaborations enabled them to acquire essential resources and cover a range of topics in the toolkit about mental wellness; from sleep deprivation to caregiver stress.

Bryan added, “Sometimes, people do not know where to start. Some of these community partners have their resources and we wanted to pull these resources together for the toolkit”. Serene Goh, the current president of PsyConnect, also shared, “Conversations with various social service agencies helped us better understand the gaps these social service agencies face in terms of educating and raising awareness on mental health amongst the community”. These collaborations have not only been beneficial for the PsyConnect team but have also proven to be invaluable to the team’s partners.

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The Mental Wellness Toolkit was distributed on magnets to residents and ambassadors

Bryan described his journey to be “an eye-opening experience, hearing from social service agencies, the interviewees and their stories. It was a nice feeling seeing the launched product”. Drawing from their experience of having uncertainties at the beginning of the project, Bryan advised fellow students who are interested in working with the community, “Even if it seems daunting, just try. You’ll never know how it ends up”.

The toolkit is currently distributed physically to the North West CDC’s ambassadors and residents under the Mental Wellness @ North West programme. Additionally, it is available online as a self-help guide, providing easy access to a wealth of information for ambassadors, caregivers and residents. As Woo Fong Yi, Project Manager at North West CDC shared the positive reception of the toolkit and appreciation of the students’ efforts, “We value the contribution of PsyConnect's students as potential volunteers. Their unique skillsets and energy can play a vital role in further enhancing the effectiveness and reach of our mental wellness initiatives. Residents and caregivers, in particular, have praised the toolkit for providing them with practical tools and resources to support their loved ones more effectively. They have mentioned that the toolkit has improved their confidence and ability to assist those whom they care for”.

Looking ahead, the team looks forward to opportunities to expand the toolkit and pursue more service-learning initiatives such as PsyConnect. As Serene mentioned, “We wish to do our part in contributing back to society and educating the public on raising mental health awareness”.

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