Living with Mental Health Issues: A Youth’s Perspective
Post Date: 16 Dec 2020
By Ho Jun Jie Ivan & Daanysh Habiel B Isnin
Reshma Subramaniam, 18, is a student in Temasek Polytechnic’s (TP) Diploma in Communications & Media Management. She suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder, which is a type of anxiety that leads to extreme fear of being in social settings such as talking to people or meeting new people. Thus, she feels the need to be very careful with her words and actions.
Said Reshma: “I always feel very anxious when talking to others as I might be unintentionally hurting them with anything I say.”
Reshma is not alone. Poor mental health has been a rising concern among today’s youths. According to Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), 71 people of ages 20 to 29 committed suicide due to mental illnesses in 2019. Examples of mental disorders include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.
There is also the fear of youths being judged or associated with negative stereotypes which results in them hiding their struggles. In a Channels News Asia (CNA) article, Mr Edward Chia, CEO of Timbre Group says that youths tend to want to talk to their friends first rather than consult with their school counsellor when they have issues.
“I understand why people don’t want other people to know that they are suffering as they are afraid of being judged,” added Reshma.
“I can relate to that because I am constantly overthinking that I am being judged by others and I am always just afraid to make mistakes because of other people’s perspectives.”
However, there are ways for youths suffering from mental health issues to cope. Talking to a professional, such as a counsellor or psychologist, can be extremely beneficial. According to Reshman, she has regular sessions with a therapist, which allows her to see things “from a third person’s point of view...from a bigger picture.”
To Reshma, it is important that youths seek help from professionals. In TP, for instance, students can turn to the Student Support and Career Services (SSCS) should they require socio-emotional counselling.
“You need to come to terms with the fact that you might have mental health issues and once you’ve accepted that you can open up to other people,” she said.
“Having a healthy group of friends around me who are able to understand my fear and calm me down whenever I feel anxious also helps me cope with my social anxiety.”
To youths who fear being discriminated against due to their mental health issues, Reshma has this to say: “Just because someone has mental health problems does not mean they should be deprived of opportunities.”