By Joy Lim Wei Ting (22S03R), Chairperson
Welcome to the sneak preview of the Peer Helpers Programme (PHP), a Wednesday enrichment programme from 1pm–3pm! You must be thinking hard on which enrichment programme to join given the numerous options out there, with only 1 choice to be made. If you are very passionate about helping others and serving your school community, then PHP is the enrichment programme for you.
Of course, as the name suggests, you will learn how to be a peer helper during your time in PHP, with a chance to (i) increase your self-awareness and ability to reflect, (ii) better understand your peers, (iii) improve your ability to listen, (iv) develop better relationship skills, (v) get a chance to learn, experience and practise basic counselling techniques and (vi) find out more about common mental health issues in youths such as mental wellness, depression, anxiety and stress.
These will be done through the usual lessons conducted by the counsellors at Raffles Guidance Centre (RGC), as well as the learning journeys and invited guest speakers. In 2021, due to COVID-19, we had our learning journeys over Zoom.
Some of our invited speakers include those from the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), Acceset and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), as well as other mental health professionals such as social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors.
Through the talk with CHAT, peer helpers managed to find out more about their services and their work in the youth mental health scene. For SOS, we had a better understanding on suicide and the programmes they run. During our time with Acceset, we were taught about digital empathy skills and trauma-informed care. Finally, the staff from IMH shared about various mental health conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. We also listened to the story of someone who is now a mental health advocate and had type 1 bipolar disorder during our online learning journey with IMH. All these talks made our learning journeys a really insightful and unforgettable experience.
Apart from learning peer helping skills and understanding the mental health scene in Singapore, you will also be involved in organising various PHP events. For example, in 2021, we organised an art showcase aimed at promoting greater awareness and discussions on mental health issues in RI through the creative mediums of art and photography. The responses to the themes “Dream” and “Hope” embody students’ ideas, aspirations and sharing about their journeys with mental health. PHP also organised a virtual concert to provide all viewers a quick respite from the stresses of school COVID-19 life.
Last but not least, peer helpers will also be involved in the organising of the Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). MHAW is our biggest event, involving the whole PHP community. Peer helpers team up in groups to work on a mental health condition of their choice. This is an opportunity that will allow them to have a better understanding about their chosen mental health topic and share their project with the school, increasing mental health awareness amongst the school population. Some mental health topics presented during MHAW 2021 include social anxiety, “zoom” anxiety, languishing and imposter syndrome.
If you are interested to join PHP, below are some of the requirements of the programme:
· Minimum 80% attendance
· Plan and run a Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) in Term 3
· Work on a project to be presented during MHAW
· Help to man “My Rest Space” for a minimum of 10 hours
· Submit a 1000 word reflection and a 10 minute peer helping transcript
· Participate in the Raffles Science Symposium: Mental Health Science Strand in January the following year
· Assist Raffles Guidance Centre (RGC) in some of their events
· Attend learning journeys to relevant organisations involved in peer helping and mental health in Singapore
That’s all for the sneak preview! For more information on what we do as RI peer helpers, go to our PHP website (https://rafflespeerhelpers.wordpress.com/about/) and follow us on Instagram (@rafflespeerhelpers) and Telegram (Wellbeing Matters @ RI), manned by our very own Peer Helpers! Hope to see you in PHP!