Time to lift the weight off your shoulders
Non-profit organisation, Campus PSY, is here to help any youths-in-distress.
When Cho Ming Xiu went through tertiary education, he noticed how the stress took its toll on his friends, especially when exams were approaching.
The 29-year-old founder of peer support group Campus PSY said: “During my time in polytechnic, a group of friends and I noticed how some of our other friends were not attending classes. They didn’t even want to leave their homes.”
Knowing these were early signs of depression, Ming Xiu and his friends decided to spend more time with one such course mate. From visiting him at home to taking him out for a stroll and helping him catch up with school, Min Xiu saw how support from the community helped his friend pull through the difficult period.
This experience led Ming Xiu to think about ways to help other youths, from junior colleges and universities as well.
After volunteering at the Institute for Mental Health (IMH) for many months, the Singapore Institute of Management undergraduate majoring in social work was even more convinced that a peer support group could make a difference for youths.
He said: “I realised all of us would much rather seek advice from our friends than a counsellor due to the negative stigma with having mental health issues.”
Rallying five friends, they started Campus PSY in July 2016. The initiative, which now has over 50 volunteers, rallies youth volunteers from tertiary institutions, starting with universities, to reach out to their peers who are in distress.
Xin Ying, 20, a psychology student from SMU, decided to join the team as she felt a personal connection with the purpose of this project.
“When I first started university, I had a hard time trying to fit in. And I was thinking, if only we had such a community in the first place, it would’ve made life so much easier for students to get the support they need,” she said.
Campus PSY will be starting a co-curricular activity club within the four major universities, where youths-in-distress may approach the trained ambassadors in the schools to have a casual chat about the problems they might be facing. For professional advice, they also plan to involve mental health workers.
Before their official launch next month, the Campus PSY team has been busy recruiting and training volunteer peer helpers. Mental health organisations and awareness groups, such as IMH and Over the Rainbow, are coming alongside to organise communication and self-care skills workshops for the volunteers, most of whom have no prior counselling training.
“You need to have the heart and the passion to want to serve the youths and the mental health community. That is the crucial part because you can train the skills, but you can’t train the heart,” added Ming Xiu.