Mental Health. We hear so much of it yet know so little. It is a topic many Singaporeans are very familiar with, yet the stigma lingers. Those who battle it often find it difficult to articulate the struggle.
Recent studies show a growing trend towards mental health issues with unchanging negative attitudes towards individuals with these issues. The Singapore Mental Health Study 2010 states that 1 in 8 Singaporeans have a mental disorder; with the three most common being Major Depressive Disorder, Alcohol Abuse, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and another recent study on quality of life by The National Council of Social Services (NCSS) in 2018 also showed that persons with mental health conditions face challenges living with dignity largely due to the negative attitudes of others. Many do not feel accepted by those around them. Findings from the study also showed that 6 out of 10 believe that mental health conditions are caused by a lack of self-discipline and willpower and that more than 5 in 10 are not willing to live, live nearby or work with someone with a mental health condition.
The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival (SMHFF), running from February 21-24, 2019 at The Projector, aims to tackle these negative attitudes and lack of awareness through the medium of film.
Featuring 7 different Asian and Western films, highlighting different mental health issues, such as dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and more, the festival also puts forth a series of in-depth panel sessions, bringing together mental health professionals across various specializations, as well as moderators such as local media icon Anita Kapoor and Noorlinah Mohamed – a multi-award winning theatre actress, to discuss these issues with the audience in an approachable manner.
Workshops featuring different modalities of mental health care such as body sculpturing, yoga, guided meditation and craft will also run during the festival, with the aim of helping individuals to raise their emotional resiliency.
On the inspiration and motivations behind this inaugural showcase, Festival director and founder of The Breathe Movement (the organisation behind the festival) shared that “Having experienced various mental health issues, I recognise the difficulty in speaking about this condition that’s innate and personal. I envision a world where persons with disabilities of all sorts will be heard and seen without fearing judgement or discrimination.”
If you too, would like to be part of this movement that challenges the stigma and having real conversations around mental health issues in Singapore, check out the full event listings here.