IMPACT 0396: LOOKING OUT FOR SCHOOLMATES’ MENTAL HEALTH
Hi! My name is Wei En, a Year Three Republic Polytechnic (RP) student from Aviation Management. I co-founded ICARE Carnival in 2019, a community leadership initiative project. It is run by students in RP, and has been running for three consecutive years.
In collaboration with both the student council and National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) interest group, ICARE Carnival was organised to raise awareness about student mental health in school. It’s a platform to educate our participants to reach out to their peers when they are depressed or upset. The RP counselors’ helpline is also shared to provide support for the students.
As a former vice-president of the NYAA interest group, I took up the responsibility to look out for needs in our community. With a team of six student leaders, we sat together to build on the idea of solving community issues among students. We learnt that on an annual wellness survey our school had conducted with all students, mental health issues came up as the top concern.
I then invited student leaders from the student council and NYAA interest group to run an event alongside me, one that would provide a platform to show that we care as peers. This is how ICARE Carnival was born, and over 700 students turned up for it!
To start building an inclusive community, I designed a pledge wall for this event. This allowed students to express their encouragement to those struggling in the form of a written note. About 800 pledges were pasted on the wall at our first event.
The games at ICARE Carnival have also been designed to better educate the public on how one can effectively approach someone who is depressed or having suicidal thoughts. This stems from my committee’s belief that it is vital for the participants to learn how to assist a friend who needs help. Thus, thus the games we’ve created are both engaging and educational.
“Rewards” in the form of cotton candy and popcorn are also given out at the carnival – but only if participants complete our entire circuit of activities, in order to encourage them to be fully engaged!
As a poly student, why not use your pockets of free time to effect positive change in the community? Of course, this is a commitment to be managed together with academics and CCAs, but trust me, it can be a very fulfilling responsibility to undertake. Now, as a student advisor, I give talks to student leaders across RP to encourage them to start on their community projects in Singapore.