$1 million fund launched to help deliver mental health programmes for youths

A cheque presentation of $1 million for the Musim Mas BlueStar* Fund, witnessed by Minister for Social and Family Development, Desmond Lee (second from left). (PHOTO: Character and Leadership Academy)
A cheque presentation of $1 million for the Musim Mas BlueStar* Fund, witnessed by Minister for Social and Family Development, Desmond Lee (second from left). (PHOTO: Character and Leadership Academy)

SINGAPORE — A $1 million fund was launched on Saturday (18 July) to provide grants to non-profit organisations that deliver mental health programmes and services for school-going children and youths.

Called the Musim Mas BlueStar* Fund, this initiative was launched at the 12th Global Youth Leaders Summit by local philanthropic organisation The Majurity Trust (TMT) and leading palm oil company Musim Mas Holdings.

Character and Leadership Academy (CLA), which organised the virtual summit, is the first recipient from the fund, which is provided for through a cash donation by Musim Mas as part of its multi-million-dollar care fund, Project Onward.

CLA is a youth development agency which develops and conducts youth suicide prevention work in Asia. It seeks to help young people understand and manage stress and depression.

“We are grateful for this fund where we can scale up our mental resilience programme for children, youths, educators and parents by equipping them with skills to manage their mental well-being especially during these times of pandemic,” said CLA executive director Delane Lim.

“We hope that everyone who has been through our programmes will be gatekeepers of their own lives and be our eyes and ears for others who may be at risk.”

COVID-19 has worsened mental health

The fund launch was witnessed by Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development; Alvin Lim, Musim Mas chief financial officer and executive director; Martin Tan, TMT executive director; and Delane Lim, CLA executive director.

During his speech, Lee said that, according to the Singapore Mental Health Study in 2016, one in seven people aged 18 years and above in Singapore will experience a mood, anxiety or alcohol-use disorder in his lifetime.

“We want to look out especially for those who are facing increased stressors, such as graduates looking for jobs, those who are hesitant to seek help due to stigma, and those facing anxiety and depression,” he said.

“In February this year, we issued an open call and formed the Youth Mental Well-being Network. Over 1,000 youths, mental health professionals, practitioners and parents have stepped forward. Through this network, we hope to translate ideas to actions, build on the good work done so far, and strengthen our ecosystem of support.”

According to Tan, TMT has identified declining mental health as an issue which needs urgent attention, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the collective mental health and wellbeing of the Singapore society.

“Our children and youth are among the most vulnerable. In recent years, there has been a worrying increase in the number of youth suicides. Those struggling with anxiety and depression are especially at risk,” he said.

“This Musim Mas BlueStar* Fund will provide timely support to complement existing efforts to help our youth struggling with mental health challenges.”

Global Youth Leaders Summit

The Global Youth Leaders Summit, which took the theme of “MAD@Crisis: Making A Difference In Times of Crisis Regardless of Race, Language, Religion or Nationality”, saw a keynote address by motivational speaker Nick Vujicic.

Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling, who is the patron for CLA, led a panel discussion that included David Chua, chief executive officer of National Youth Council; Sherry Soon, founder of BeKind SG; Nigel Teo, founder of GoodHood.SG; and Samantha Lim, founder of #BlockWatchSG.

Other guest speakers included magician Sng Ming Da, comedian Dr Jason Leong, and voiceover actor Steven Bones.

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