Chalk’em Up! was started as a hobby for us, but at the same time, we wanted to find a way to pay it forward, and contribute back to society. Hence, we have decided to select a beneficiary to donate 30% of profits (counting only material cost as all sewing is done by ourselves) every year. This time, we have chosen Silver Ribbon to be our beneficiary till the end of 2018. Silver Ribbon is a not-for-profit organization that was launched in 2006 by our Former Singapore President, Mr S.R. Nathan. His goal was simple, to raise awareness for mental health and to promote positive mental health by removing stigma and allowing those who needed help to be able to seek help early, without the fear of being labelled as “crazy” etc.

In 2010, the very first Singapore Mental Health Study was conducted by the Institute of Mental Health, which found 1 in 10 (~9.3%) Singaporeans as having at least one mood or anxiety disorder in their lifetime. (https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/pressRoom/Parliamentary_QA/2017/state-of-mental-health-in-singapore.html) The second Singapore Mental Health Study is currently underway, and it is not unlikely to see the figures go up, especially given the faster pace of society, increasing stress and demands in general. It is not uncommon that such figures are also under-reported, as many are unwilling to seek treatment, and many are in denial of themselves having a mental health condition. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) were the two commonest mental health problems back in 2010, and I believe that statistics are likely to reflect a similar trend, but probably with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) also topping the list of common conditions.

Recently Channel News Asia (CNA) released a four-part series/documentary on depression – “Facing Depression”. Have yet to come across a documentary that so accurately portrays the life of those struggling with depression, as well as those around them, until CNA released the documentary on “Facing Depression” (https://www.channelnewsasia.com/…/video-o…/facing-depression). I would highly recommend taking 4 hours out of your hectic schedules, to open our eyes to a lifetime of knowledge to aid those in need of our support. The 4-part documentary covers depression from 4 different angles – allowing us a peek into how it may affect people of different ages.

It is unfortunate that so much misconception and stigma still surrounds mental illnesses in this day and age. Perhaps with a bit more knowledge and understanding, more adequate support can be provided at an opportune time. It is sad that even healthcare professionals look at those with mental health problems through tinted glasses. However, like that of the general public, this may not be through any fault of theirs, but just that it is difficult to grasp the concept or really understand what it is like living with depression, without having gone through depression themselves.

But as mentioned, depression is just but one of the mental health problems that people may face. And some of these problems may be less “hidden” than others. It is exciting that Singapore will be hosting the very 1st Global Summit for Mental Health Advocates 2018 this year in October. It shows that Singapore is taking that step to acknowledge the importance of tackling Mental Health and the importance of advocacy.

For those who are interested to donate to Silver Ribbon directly, information can be found here: http://www.silverribbonsingapore.com/donate.html

Those who are interested to get involved as an Intern with Silver Ribbon can find out more here: http://www.silverribbonsingapore.com/intern.html. Ultimately, we must take it upon ourselves to remove that stigma, that that step forward, share it with our friends and relatives, and hopefully one day there will no longer be any shame or stigma attached to someone who mentions that they have a mental health condition, like how one would say that he/she has high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.

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