Did you know that suicide prevails as the most common cause of death for men under 50? Here in Singapore, the number of suicides has risen 10% in the last year. With devastating statistics like these, the impact of both our mental health and mental well-being cannot be ignored. It is time to end the silent crisis of men and mental health.
Observed on 10 October, World Mental Health Day happened last Thursday with suicide prevention as the as the primary focus for 2019's theme. In support of the highly important and impactful annual event, Esquire Singapore held WeWork x Esquire Singapore: A Piece of Mind, following October’s Piece of Mind issue and Podcast on male suicide, depression and mental health.
Topics the event raised
Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Norman Tan, the candid and enlightening conversation addressed why men don’t discuss their mental health, social stigmas attached to mental health, the relationship between technology and mental health, and quite crucially, what you should do if you or a loved one is suffering.
The largely successful event also held individual breakout sessions with each panellist as an opportunity for guests to directly engage with in the event. Designed to further encourage discussion, sessions ranged from conversational card games, one-to-one and group sessions, discussions on technology to improve mental health and even, therapeutic creative colouring.
Five take-home points from each panellist
As mental health is individual, the five positive voices of empowerment span differing specialisations, adding versatile perspectives for guests to resonate with. Discussions varied from the taboos surrounding men and mental health to how to psychologically detach mental health as a weakness. While all speakers and their experiences with mental health were unique, the message stayed consistent: we must discuss mental health.
Best-selling author and Esquire Singapore columnist
- Despite having everything, mental health will have you wake up and still feel absolutely shit. Do not feel guilty for this.
- You cannot snap out mental health issues any easier than anyone can snap out of a broken arm.
- Technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to mental health. You can self-diagnose, you can speak to others in chat rooms but eventually, you must speak to someone face to face.
- A one-size-fits-all approach can not apply to stress. Stress is chemical and often has nothing to do with external factors.
- You have nothing to be ashamed and there is nothing wrong with you.
Dr. Alex Su
Psychiatrist at Institute of Mental Health
- Mental illness should be treated the same as a physical illness.
- Men not talking about their feelings is a leading factor for male suicide rates.
- We must advocate that it is okay to talk about how you are feeling.
- Symptoms of mental health issues can easily be managed and treated.
- The most important thing you can do is to let someone in distress know that there is someone listening.
Counsellor and wellness consultant
- There are often no physical signs, only emotional.
- Be mindful and conscious of balance, ensuring that you always give yourself enough time.
- Ask questions and be curious.
- If people often do not understand what is happening to them, it is normal.
- If you make small, daily changes to your life—such as exercising more, eating better, spending more time with loved ones—watch how they can improve your mental health.
Dr. Kwon Kim
Director of Neuroscience Strategy at Holmusk, a digital health and data analytics company
- Mental illness is an elephant in the room in Asian culture.
- It is helpful to try and give someone suffering from mental illness solutions, even with the little things.
- Technology can help those with mental illness.
- There is good stress and there is bad stress. We seek good stress that comes from adrenaline in small doses, however, bad stress—chronic and cannot be escaped—needs to be addressed.
- You cannot just snap out of your mental illness.
Khoo Yi Feng
Youth Support Worker at CHAT (Community Health Assessment Team)
- Segregate the illness from the person. You are not defined by your mental illness.
- Try asking someone ‘what helps them’ rather than just if they are okay. This inspires and opens conversation.
- We need to encourage work places to have mental health programmes to facilitate discussion and openness.
- Mental health is not just for professionals to discuss, we must all come together and do so.
- Mental illness is not a weakness.
If you need someone to talk to, here are resources and hotlines available:
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute of Mental Health’s crisis helpline: 6389-2222
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928
Tinkle Friend (for primary school-aged children): 1800-274-4788
Beyond the Label HelpBot: A Facebook messenger bot with resources, helplines and information about mental health.