15-year-old Eleanor* had to endure bullying in school and often struggles with her academic performance. At home, her family members are often too busy with work to spend time with her. In addition, Eleanor* works part-time to supplement her monthly allowance. However, coping with conflict in the workplace added an additional layer of stress for the young girl. Over time, these factors resulted in Eleanor* feeling lost and lonely, as she struggled to cope with her issues alone. These negative feelings culminated in suicidal thoughts and resulted in a suicide attempt in early March this year. Thankfully, Eleanor* was stopped by a passer-by and admitted to the Institute of Mental Health for treatment.
At the Institute of Mental Health, Eleanor* was treated and subsequently referred to TOUCH Mental Wellness’ Supporting Youth in the Community (SYiNC), a community-based intervention and engagement programme for youths with mental health issues, since end-March 2023. During the programme, Eleanor* meets her assigned counsellor every fortnight to address the different issues in her life. Such sessions have become a safe space for Eleanor* to share her problems, learn coping skills and create helpful solutions together with the counsellor. During one particular session, they drew up a safety plan for her suicide risk, which Eleanor* feels was her biggest takeaway.
Taking Small Steps to Improve Mental Health
Eleanor* shares, “The counselling sessions helped me develop a better understanding of the relationships in my life and improve my interactions with others. I also feel less alone and have a better awareness of where to get support. I barely have any suicidal thoughts nowadays.”
Her counsellor, Ms Savrina Shahi, added, “Eleanor* is active in her efforts towards making a positive change in the different areas of her life. She was able to identify areas of stress and address them with effective changes, such as switching jobs and seeking out a group of peers in school who are able to offer her a safe space.”
In addition, Eleanor* has been mindful of her emotional reactions to those around her and is working on improving her communication skills for better problem resolution and healthier relationships. Some of Eleanor*'s family members have also expressed their willingness to work on strengthening their relationship so that she can turn to them for support.
“As I continue with the programme, I hope to be able to manage my own suicidal thoughts and have good relationships with those I care about. I also hope to manage my emotions better and hone my communication skills which will be helpful for my future passion.”
Eleanor* hopes to get into the Automotive Engineering course offered by the Institute of Technical Education to fulfil her dream of becoming a bus mechanic or bus driver. She is currently a member of a bus enthusiast club in Singapore, which gathers for special bus sightings, rides and discussions.
*Name changed for privacy purposes
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TOUCH Mental Wellness (TMW) runs personalised therapy and counselling programmes to empower individuals to rise above their circumstances. An advocate of mental wellness, TMW has been organising mental wellness awareness mass runs, talks and workshops since 2015. It works closely with corporations to conduct mental wellness talks with an aim of equipping employees with handles to cope with stress and help them build resilience. It also specialises in mental wellness awareness and educational programmes for schools.
Story published in 2023