Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) of the 8,000 youths who took part in the youth conversations in 2018, what is the number and percentage of youths who indicated mental wellbeing as a top concern; (b) what plans does the Ministry have to address the issue of youth mental health; and (c) how will these plans align with the Ministry's Community Mental Health Masterplan and programmes being undertaken by other agencies.
- Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth: 3,600 youths responded to the online poll of Youth Conversations. The topic of mental health received over 2,100 votes, making it 9th among top topics of interest, ranging from social inequality to marriage and parenthood. A face-to-face Youth Conversation was subsequently organised in partnership with the Health Promotion Board (HPB), bringing students, volunteers, and mental health professionals together to discuss what more we can do as a society.
- Following the session, youths’ insights and ideas were shared with various government agencies, including HPB, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), and the National Council for Social Services (NCSS). Youths themselves also stepped up to take action. For example, some of the participants formed a panel of resource persons for HPB to provide feedback on their programmes and share insights about mental health issues among youths. In addition, two participants came together to start a project, called The SOAR Initiative (School of Ability and Recovery), to foster mental wellness and reduce stigma through education.
- Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) recently started a mental health cluster which will facilitate youth leaders in galvanising like-minded volunteers to do more in this area. Through the National Youth Fund and Young ChangeMakers Grant, we funded projects led by youths and Youth Sector Organisations, such as the Singapore Mental Health Film Festival by Breathe Movement, held in February this year, which aimed to increase awareness about the complexity of mental illnesses through a series of films and panel discussions.
- Through these efforts, we complement MOH’s wider initiatives to improve mental well-being, as part of the recommendations under the NurtureSG Action Plan and Community Mental Health Masterplan. These initiatives include strengthening peer support efforts within schools and Institutes of Higher Learning, equip them with peer-helping skills, strategies, and resources to look out for peers in distress.