Mr Chua Song Khim, Deputy Chief Executive, NUHS
Ms Linda Neo, Chairperson, NUHS Mind Science Centre Art Science Council
Associate Professor John Wong Chee Meng, Lin Jo Yan and Yeo Boon Khim Professor in Mental Health and Neuroscience, Director, NUHS Mind Science Centre
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to all. I am delighted to join you today at the launch of the “Teens & Kin” exhibition presented by the Mind Science Centre at the Mind Art Experiential Lab (MAELab) at Alexandra Hospital.
Building a Strong and Resilient Society
2. The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges faced by our nation in recent years, and has impacted the mental well-being of many Singaporeans, including our youth. Regular polls conducted by the National Youth Council (NYC) between April and December 2020 on youths’ challenges and sentiments during COVID-19 found mental well-being to be a challenge for over half the youth population (52%) surveyed. The top stressors raised included anxiety over the future (53%), stress over finances (41%), and worries about academic or work performance (39%). Although youths have reported gradual improvements in their mental well-being with the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in 20221, we can do more to support our youth. Each of us, in our roles as parents, mentors, family members, or friends, can be there to support one another and to build a more resilient society.
The Importance of Youth Mental Health and Well-Being
3. Growing up in a fast-paced urban society, Singaporean youth contend with a wide range of demands and challenges that can affect their mental well-being, especially through critical life transitions. For example, the teenage years can be a difficult time when young people struggle with issues of identity and belonging. Transition periods, such as enlisting for National Service, or getting one’s first full time job, can feel overwhelming. Young working adults may face stresses in managing their new life roles when they get married, or when they become a parent or caregiver.
4. It is thus fitting that the “Teens & Kin” exhibition is launched in conjunction with Youth Day2, a day dedicated to celebrating the young people in our society and their contributions to Singapore’s development. Drawing from survey studies of Singapore youths and their relationships with family, the exhibition brings together thoughtful infographics, artwork commissions and activity areas. The exhibition seeks to share insights into adolescents’ mental health and well-being issues, and avenues for tackling these challenges. Notably, the exhibition features new artwork produced by Singaporean artist Mary Bernadette Lee and sixteen students from Boon Lay Garden Primary School, Hua Yi Secondary School, Yuan Ching Secondary School and Jurong Secondary School. The artwork reflects the mental health challenges affecting youth today, and the importance of family support in building resilience and inspiring hope and aspirations amongst adolescents.
5. To help parents better support youths’ mental health needs, the Mind Science Centre (MSC) has introduced the Singapore Youth Resilience Scale (SYRESS), as well as the Mind and Parent booklet. These resources guide parents on the ten domains of resilience building that youths can tap on to cope with and overcome life stressors. The booklet also contains key scenarios and strategies that parents or caregivers can use in their daily interactions with their children, to instil positive coping methods.
6. Apart from resources for parents and youth, the Mind Science Centre has also developed the Emotional Literacy & First Aid (ELFA) programme, a mental health training tool to equip individuals with basic mental health literacy and skills to support others in distress. The programme is available to the healthcare community, and will be extended to volunteers and community partners later this year. I would like to commend the Mind Science Centre for developing these resources, and hope that that the resources will be useful to parents, youth, and Singaporeans.
Developing a Whole-of-Society Approach to Tackle Mental Health and Well-Being Efforts
7. We recognise that many youths are keen to contribute to mental health awareness and peer support initiatives. As such, the Youth Mental Well-being Network was launched in 2020 to mobilise youth volunteers to develop initiatives to improve youth mental health. To date, the Network has brought together over 1,500 individuals and initiated more than 20 ground-up initiatives. At the same time, we recognise that mental health issues affect everyone in society, both young and old. Moving forward, the Network will be expanded to achieve a wider impact and benefit the larger population.
8. It takes a whole-of-society approach to promote the mental health and well-being of the population. In this regard, the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health & Wellbeing, which was set up last July to oversee and coordinate cross-cutting national mental health issues, comprise members from the public, private and people sectors. The Taskforce has conducted a review of existing mental health efforts and developed preliminary recommendations to enhance the mental health of Singaporeans. The Taskforce is currently embarking on a public consultation exercise to seek the public’s views on the recommendations. As mental health concerns all of us, we welcome your feedback on the Taskforce’s preliminary recommendations through this exercise, which will continue until 7 August. You can do so via the REACH public consultations webpage.
9. Mental health is an integral component of overall health and well-being. At the exhibition, 18 volunteers from all walks of life will be bringing visitors on an insightful experiential journey through the themed sections. I hope that a walk through the exhibition will inspire all of us to take concrete steps towards resilience and mental wellness, and to support one another to foster greater mental well-being and resilience in our society.
10. Thank you.
 NYC’s Youth Sentiment Polls (Jan 2022 to Apr 2022) – 51% of respondents reported good or very good mental well-being in April 2022.
 Singapore’s Youth Day 2022 is on 3 July 2022 (Sunday).