As mental health has been one of the key concerns especially during this pandemic, YSMOU took the liberty to organise a mental health workshop for the youth. The aim of the workshop was to help the members better understand their mental health by recognising and identifying the early signs of mental distress, how to manage it, and how to be of support to fellow seafarers working together with them. SMOU General Secretary Sister Mary Liew welcomed the youth members and also encouraged them to come forward to share personal encounters or raise questions related to mental health.
Through NTUC U Associate and Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS), YSMOU engaged Mr Eugene Chong, Principal Counselling Psychologist of My Corner Space and member of APACS for the workshop. He discussed the importance of mental health awareness, the signs of depression and anxiety, and gave an overview of the mental health conditions that are present in today’s day and age. The participants also managed to learn some basic micro-skills on how to support those around them, such as asking relevant questions and validating an individual’s feelings.
During the session, the participants were assigned to various breakout rooms to share their experiences and to discuss on challenges faced. The youth exchanged on how they dealt with certain situations and also seek advice from Eugene on what can be improved and the possible steps to take in order to resolve the issue or to extend some help.
The workshop rounded off with numerous questions and doubts among participants being addressed; with professional advice given to prevent harm, as well as how to be of help to another individual in different situations. An individual can be the first line of defense to spot the signs and should a seafarer notice any probable case that may result in serious or adverse consequences, he/ she should refer the case to the ship master, company or seek help from professionals.
Engine Cadet Yap Cheng Hong, found the exchange of personal stories among the other seafarers helpful. He expressed his appreciation to SMOU for providing a platform for discussion and support.
“This workshop lets us know that there are others who have been facing the same problems, and that the union is aware of our difficulties and are trying their best to be there for us.”
4th Officer Nashrul Hakim Ahmad, felt the event was beneficial because it was applicable in a shipboard environment.
Additionally, he felt that the workshop allowed him “to be open and ask for opinion on how to overcome problems onboard.” Through the workshop, his takeaway was knowing the correct way to approach someone with mental issues.
The session falls in line with SMOU’s 70th anniversary theme of ‘Because of You’, by conducting workshops to assist seafarers, the key workers of the maritime industry. Moving forward, YSMOU will continue to look into equipping members with other necessary knowledge and skills to navigate through their seafaring role in the new norm.
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