A mental health initiative for young people
What does Halogen have to do with Health?
Much! Halogens in nature – bromine, chlorine, fluorine, iodine and astatine – are highly reactive elements. Whether in their pure form or as a salt (when combined with metals), they can be detrimental or extremely useful to human health.
Alike this chemical relation, we see the work of Halogen as a youth leadership development organisation having direct relevance to the mental health and development of our young people. Thus, we were glad when we were invited to partner with the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), as well as various other government agencies in organising the Educating for Health (EFH) Conference 2011, as part of the Healthy youth Committee (Hy-COM).
This year’s conference, the third since 2007, was themed “Mind Your Health”. Some 750 educators and parents came together on 17 and 18 November 2011 at Republic Polytechnic to hear experts share. Topics covered mental resilience in children and youth, and creating and sustaining a positive shared environment for children and youth with mental health issues.
“Topics covered mental resilience in children and youth, and creating and sustaining a positive shared environment for children and youth with mental health issues.”
Together, the Hy-COM organised the conference with a difference, immersing the 99 secondary two participants from various schools in learning about mental health and resilience through the use of applied drama.
Through the day, students from the imaginary “HapPeople Secondary School” (all the youth participants) had to interview four possible “suspects” to determine the owner of a mysterious diary found in the school compound. They also had to listen and give advice to help each of the student suspects in their issues of either stress, excessive use of the internet, problems with transitioning into a new environment and bullying.
Halogen staff – Darlene, Faith and Shawn – together with HPB staff and youth volunteers helped facilitate the discussions which saw active sharing and exchange amongst the students rather than passive listening. There were many “HapPeople” (Happy People) at the end of the conference when they received prizes for correctly guessing the owner of the diary! More than that, we trust they all went home with a better grasp of how to recognise and manage common issues faced by youth and can apply that in their schools.
For the adult component, our very own Head of Communications, Jael Chng, spoke at one of the concurrent sessions on “How do you Facebook your Emo Kid: When Pokes are Passe and Likes are in?”. She shared with the 82 participants that it was not about the technology, it was not even about Facebook. Rather, it was about understanding why technology and social networking are so important to the Millenials. Together, they explored how they can maximise the potential and minimise the dangers of social technologies, and learn together how to connect with the youths as educators.
All in all, it was a privilege to come alongside our national agencies for this cause. It was not just being part of a conference, but it is being part of a movement that lasts beyond the few days. it was about building healthy young leaders, together.—
Article by Pearl Pang