How to Reach Out for Help: Mental Health Guide in Singapore

Mental health issues left untreated

Seeking help for mental health struggles is a crucial step to improving the well-being of individuals. In many cases, the decision to seek support can be a life-changing experience. The topic of mental health has been increasingly highlighted and normalised in recent years, encouraging young people to openly share their experiences and feelings with professionals or loved ones.

Campaigns and initiatives such as "It's OKAY to Reach Out" have made it easier to seek help, and have contributed greatly to destigmatising mental illness among Singaporeans. However, for many who are struggling, help still seems far away, and they can find difficulty in seeking help.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to reaching out for your mental health concerns, from the starting point to specific services you can contact.

Recognising You Need Help

Feel sad for an extended period

The first step to pursuing aid is recognising the need for it. If you're taking the initiative to search for information and acknowledging that you may need a professional consultation, you're already on the right path. Self-awareness and a willingness to learn more about oneself are crucial steps towards understanding one's mental health.

There are several warning signs that can indicate an individual may be in need of help for their mental health. These signs can vary in severity and frequency. Watch out for common examples of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness, persisting for more than two weeks
  • Panic attacks
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating or a decline in academic or work performance
  • Irritability or mood swings, constantly feeling sad
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviours, such as excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, or self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm

It's important to remember that everyone's experience with mental health is unique, and these warning signs might manifest differently for each individual. However, recognising these signs in oneself or a loved one can lead to seeking appropriate support earlier.

Reaching out for help can be a daunting task, but it's a vital step in addressing mental health concerns. Whether you decide to confide in a close friend, family member, or a mental health professional, the key is to be honest about your feelings and experiences. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and you deserve support.

What is Stopping You From Asking for Help?

Many have a hard time talking with others about depression and anxiety
  • Stigma: One of the major barriers to seeking help is the stigma around mental health. While efforts have been made to reduce it, it's undeniable that it still exists in society, and among individuals. In some cases, individuals may internalise these negative beliefs, leading to feelings of shame or guilt when experiencing mental health problems.
  • Inadequate Self-assessment: Another common barrier is the difficulty in recognising one's own need for assistance. Individuals may underestimate the severity of their symptoms or believe that they can handle the situation on their own without professional help. This reluctance can be reinforced by misconceptions about the effectiveness of mental health treatments and a lack of understanding of the various support options available. Others may downplay their own symptoms, and feel as though it's not serious enough to warrant professional support.
  • Physical Circumstances: There are also practical obstacles that may prevent people from reaching out for help. These could include financial concerns and a lack of access to resources. Some might worry that seeking support would interfere with their work or family commitments.

Addressing these barriers is vital in order to ensure that people feel empowered to reach out for help and access the mental health support they need. Raising awareness, promoting open dialogue and providing resources are all means to break down these obstacles and foster a more supportive environment for individuals struggling with mental health issues.

Seeking Help For Your Mental Health: 3 Practical Ways in Singapore

Mental health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, and seeking assistance when needed is a crucial step. In Singapore, there are various ways to reach out for help with mental health concerns. Here are three practical methods to consider:

Learn What to Say When Reaching Out For Help

Reaching out for help mental health

When reaching out for help with mental health, it's essential to express your needs effectively, whether you're talking to friends, family, or mental health professionals. Start by assessing and choosing whom you want to seek help from, as this will set the foundation for a supportive conversation.

Trusted Friends and Family

If you decide to speak with friends or family, it's important to assess and think about who to seek support from. A major hurdle many face is the unwillingness of their parents or relatives to engage in such discussions. Choosing somebody who can willingly listen without dismissing your situation is important, and confiding in the wrong person may cause you to feel even worse.

Make sure to request a person's availability before sharing your struggles. Be clear about the kind of support you need, such as a listening ear, solution, or guidance, and avoid putting too much pressure on them. Showing gratitude for their willingness to listen and acknowledge your feelings is also important. Be mindful of signs that you might be oversharing, and pay attention to the level of comfort the listener is showing, as this could affect the quality of the support you receive.

A major mistake made by many people who are inexperienced in addressing their own mental health is trauma dumping. This refers to suddenly expressing trauma to a listener without prior preparation or consent. While this may feel cathartic in the moment, it can lead to adverse effects on your relationship with the listener as well as your own mental state. The average person is not emotionally prepared to listen to or give appropriate input in this situation. It's vital to not confuse a willingness to discuss mental health with trauma dumping or oversharing, as it has a counterproductive effect.

Remember, friends and family can be a great support system, but they can't replace professional therapy. A professional is equipped with the right tools and experience to listen to you in a controlled setting and is able to provide solutions and coping strategies.

Mental Health Professionals

When reaching out to mental health professionals, search for an ethical and professional organisation that has a proven track record. It may be useful to read testimonials and see what other clients have said about the organisation.

Another important step is to find out more about their credentials and experiences, as it's important that therapists have a minimum master's degree in their respective field (e.g. clinical psychology, counselling, or art therapy), along with relevant professional experience. Ensuring that the therapist is trauma-informed can also positively impact the therapy session.

Directly making contact with these therapists can be a daunting task for many. If you're having trouble calling them, it may be helpful to send an email or text message to make an enquiry first. Using a throwaway email or anonymous identity may help alleviate the stress of contacting a stranger. Many therapists and therapy centres will gladly answer your questions, and are receptive to people seeking help.

Once you've managed to pursue a first session, assess the client-therapist fit to determine if they're right for you. If it doesn't work out the first time, don't be discouraged – continue searching for a suitable therapist who will cater to your needs. Open-mindedness is crucial, but remember that emotional healing takes time.

By following these steps, you can confidently and effectively reach out for help with your mental health and start a conversation that will lead to better mental well-being.

Explore Different Professional Solutions

Talk to loved ones and explore alternate solutions

There are a variety of methods available for individuals seeking professional help for mental health issues. One option is to visit a polyclinic and obtain a referral to an in-house psychologist. Alternatively, you can request to be referred to specialised institutions such as IMH or NUH. However, if you're struggling with pursuing help, it may be too intimidating to get a clinical diagnosis or look for a doctor.

In these situations, there are other types of support available:

Peer support groups: These groups are led by people who have personal experience with mental health challenges. They can provide a safe and supportive environment to share experiences, learn from others, and develop coping skills. You may be able to find friends here in similar situations, and it may serve as a lower-pressure environment compared to a therapist or doctor.

Groups such as the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) organise and run peer support programs where people can seek advice and recovery in a neutral, judgement-free setting.

Community mental health centres: These centres offer a variety of mental health services, including counselling, medication management, and support groups. These centres often serve as the primary point of contact for individuals seeking mental health care, especially for those who may not have access to private health care or who are in crisis. Centres offer services such as outpatient treatment, crisis intervention, day programs, and sometimes inpatient care.

Organisations such as Silver Ribbon are committed to providing this care, and hospitals tend to have CMH programs that allow people to seek out help.

Non-Tradtional Therapy: There are multiple types of therapy that don't all involve sitting in a room and speaking to a therapist directly. One such expressive, non-talk-therapy is Art Psychotherapy, which we specialise in here at Solace. Art Therapy is a unique and accessible approach that offers a fresh perspective on mental health treatment. It incorporates creative expression as a method of communication and self-discovery, differentiating it from conventional therapy. This approach can be an excellent starting point for individuals seeking mental health support, as it encourages experimentation and allows for a more comfortable and easy-to-approach experience.

Those interested in trying art psychotherapy can arrange a single session to determine if it's suitable for their needs. By seeking these alternate solutions, individuals can find the most effective and appropriate support for their mental health and well-being.

Try a Mental Health Hotline

Mental health helplines

One option to consider is contacting a mental health helpline. These hotlines offer a safe space for individuals experiencing emotional distress to speak with trained professionals, who can provide support and guidance.

In Singapore, there are several resources available for those in need of mental health assistance. Services such as Samaritans of Singapore are available 24/7. Individuals can receive immediate support and be connected with appropriate services that cater to their specific needs.

Samaritans of Singapore

Singapore Association for Mental Health

Talking with a trained professional over a helpline can provide emotional support and help to identify any underlying issues. This in turn can lead to appropriate recommendations for further assistance, such as therapy or medical intervention. It is essential to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and an essential step towards improving one's mental well-being.

By acknowledging the problem and proactively seeking help, you or a loved one can become more likely to overcome mental health challenges and lead a happier and healthier life.

You Deserve the Right Help and Support

Seeking help for mental health issues

Taking the first step in seeking help for your mental health is a brave and commendable decision. Recognising that you need support—and admitting that it's okay to ask for help—can change your life for the better. Everybody deserves to live a life free from these issues, and by reaching out, you can take control of your future.

At Solace, we specialise in art psychotherapy for mental health. Through our innovative and non-intrusive approach, you'll be able to engage in a creative process to express your emotions and struggles. Art Therapy is a method of dealing with trauma non-verbally, which many may feel more comfortable with. It helps foster self-awareness and gives you a clearer understanding of your feelings, paving the way for growth and healing.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggles, and seeking professional support is a vital step towards a brighter, healthier life. By taking these steps to seek help, you are taking charge of your mental health. Contact us to find out more about our services and pricing, as well as make any enquiries.