Two years on, and the masks are still on. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be far from over, along with its complete upheaval of what we knew as daily life. Despite clinging onto what bit of normalcy we have, the fact remains that the world as we know it may never go back to what it was. And through it all, an equally distressing storm looms large – “the youth mental health crisis” brings unprecedented implications of the pandemic on young people today.
Scaled-down school orientations, cancelled overseas exchanges, virtual graduations, and even remote workspaces as one’s first step into the working world – “loss” has come to characterise the youths who have been deprived of fully experiencing important life milestones and relationships that we’ve known for lifetimes. These irregular absences impact the mental well-being of our youth, who find themselves unable to cope with the ways they think, feel, and react to their situations and daily stresses.
According to a survey by the Ministry of Health in 2020, youth aged between 18 and 29 have the highest proportion of poor mental health at over 20% of the youth population, and this number continues to rise. As we seek to continue unmasking the stigma of mental health, let’s focus on this particularly vulnerable group in society who struggle through the abnormalities of growing up as the COVID generation. The mental well-being of our youth is crucial for them to develop the resilience they need to navigate and thrive through the difficulties of life. While our youth are more mindful of mental health issues today, they need to be aware of creditable and assured resources that they can turn to for help, and that it is alright to not be fine and to seek assistance for it. Additionally, it is critical that seeking assistance for mental health issues is destigmatised among these youths’ caregivers and loved ones, to allow our youth to safely get the comprehensive care they require.
Through the continuation of the #UnmaskTheStigma campaign, this year, we seek to raise greater awareness of youth mental health issues in Singapore, both amongst the youth themselves and the general population. We also continue to strive towards raising funds to support those in need of mental health support but cannot afford it.