By now, you’d know that Stefanie Sun is alive and kicking, after the singer’s killer comeback to her death hoax. Now catch our national treasure in the flesh tomorrow (Oct 7) at Voice Out! Concert in the Park at Botanic Gardens as she headlines the gig organised to commemorate World Mental Health Day (Oct 10), and aims to bring to light mental health issues. Festivities at the family-friendly event begin at 4.30pm, so pack a picnic basket with the entire crew and ‘chope’ a spot for the concert which kicks off at 6pm.
Why is it so important to talk openly about mental health?
No one knows better than Stef herself. “Mental issues can occur in different stages [in life]. I remember feeling very isolated and overwhelmed when I couldn’t cope with my work. I definitely think I had a period of depression so I feel that it is very important to be able to talk about it freely. [Mental issues] are very prevalent in today’s modern society. There’s a lot of pressure ’cos everything is out there, or because social media is so new that I don’t think we have a good grasp on putting ourselves out there,” she says.
What should you do if you suspect your loved ones are facing mental health issues?
According to Dr Christopher Chan, Associate Consultant, Institute of Mental Health: “Some early warning signs to look out for are unusual changes in personality or behaviour. They may have trouble sleeping, experience changes in diet, feel lethargic or lack of motivation, experience a loss of interest in activities, even those he or she used to enjoy, have poor concentration, withdraw from society, indulge in alcohol or drug use, carry out self-harm or self-injury, or experience self-loathing.”
It’s not always easy. The last video of Chester Bennington, recorded in July just 36 hours before he took his own life, shows the late Linkin Park frontman having fun sampling mysterious-flavoured jelly beans with his kids.
Just a regular night in with the fam, except that we know it wasn’t as it seems. Bennington’s wife Talinda had posted it on Twitter to show “so that you know that depression doesn’t have a face or mood”.
According to Dr Chan: “Many young adults tend to withdraw from their family and friends, as they try to work it out alone, or they do not want their loved ones to worry. Furthermore, with withdrawal, conflicts with peers and parents are never addressed and this can be a continued source of stress.”
So what do you do? Dr Chan advises: “If you suspect a loved one to be suffering from depression or any mental health issue, provide support by showing concern and initiating a conversation. After starting the conversation, give your loved one enough time and space to talk, and listen as much as you can. If your loved one is not ready to talk, offer to talk another time, or let them know they can come to you when they are ready. Even if they don’t share much, just spending time together assures them that you care. After understanding what your loved one is experiencing, gently suggest the possibility of seeing a professional.”
But also keep in mind what not to say. Says Stef: “[Having mental issues] definitely [doesn’t mean] that this person is weak or useless. These are words that we should not be saying because many a time, it is only a phase that people go through. We should all be aware that people go through phases and that every day is a brand new start.”
Voice Out! Concert in the Park on Oct 7, at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage), 4.30pm. Free admission. For more info, go to www.facebook.com/wmhd2017.