How we activated Singapore neighbourhoods to start positive conversations around mental health

We worked with local grassroots organisations ​​to design and launch a localised neighbourhood initiative that would activate communities to open positive and supportive conversations around mental health. This campaign focused on building a sense of trust, connectedness, and care among the community; starting conversations in safe spaces; and Shifting perspectives around mental health.

Residents engaged in weaving the crochet installations
Residents involved from 13 curated community events

The mission

The mission was to design and launch a localised neighbourhood initiative that would activate communities to open positive and supportive conversations around mental health. This campaign focused on:

1. Building a sense of trust, connectedness, and care so people feel like they can talk about their issues/lean on one another as a community. 

2. Starting conversations in safe spaces by putting a face to people in the neighbourhood who can support those in need.

3. Shifting perspectives around mental health from being a problem to a normal part of life.

The Brain Juice approach

We wanted to establish that mental well-being starts at home and that neighbourhoods and homes can actively care beyond what is visible. We ran Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with residents in the selected neighbourhoods. The insights from these sessions were then used to curate targeted content, resources and community events.

We also worked with artists and residents to put up Community Crochet Art Installations that were social media-friendly and to be enjoyed by all -- regardless of age and background for the public launch of this initiative.

With the results of the FGDs in mind, we ensured that all efforts for this initiative were:

1. Aligned with campaign key messages: We made sure that with every part of this initiative, those who interacted with the programme would understand the 3 key messages.

  • You are not alone. Support - in the form of people, activities and resources - is available right where you live. We want residents to know that the community around them is non-judgemental, ready and able to help.
  • Mental health starts at home. The home should be a safe space where you can be your most authentic self instead of a place you want to escape from. We endeavour to shift perspectives and share tools that allow every family member to be a welcoming pillar of support, not just in challenging times; and a bridge to professional help, if and when it is needed.
  • Wellbeing is a journey and lifestyle, not a destination. Life goes up and down, and we want to help residents prioritise their wellbeing and that of others as a life-long practice and not just when times are tough. We want to inspire resilience to tackle challenges but also the courage to know when one really needs support.

2. Community-driven: We activated the community to drive this together with us. For example, we worked closely with the resident committee to tap into their understanding of residents and other initiatives in the neighbourhood and some workshop facilitators were also residents. We also supported youth from the schools to lead their own projects through training and resources. By engaging the local community we empower them to take ownership of their communal and individual mental well being.

3. Highly localised: All the programmes and events were run in the selected neighbourhoods and made really accessible through location, price, etc. We also intentionally chose beautiful spaces in their neighbourhood, such as parks, walking trails, community centres etc, to create new memories and positive associations. Some of these locations were even unexpected and new discoveries for the residents. 

4. Integrated with existing efforts: We made sure to leverage existing efforts into our initiatives when relevant. For example, the Blank Space programme was run to engage youth to come up with ideas for their neighbourhoods, we then came in to give a platform for youth interested in mental wellbeing to bring their ideas to life. Another example, is Bukit Panjang Sedap, an initiative to promote home bakers and cooks in the neighbourhood, we deliberately catered food from them where possible and shared about their work with residents.

Our role

  1. Run FGDs to understand the community’s needs and potential contribution regarding mental well-being and co-design ways to amplify the importance of mental well-being in the community.
  2. Create the campaign identity including narrative and key messages, naming, visuals etc. 
  3. Design, execute and optimise community engagement and communications strategy.
  4. Create a website using Isomer (SG government platform) with mental well-being resources available for readers to access and consume. This included interactive elements like an interactive well-being map created using a customised Google map.
  5. Identify and engage partners to diversify and deepen the impact of our initiative. This included artists for the installations, workshop facilitators, resident volunteers and more.
  6. Conceptualise and produce human interest video stories to destigmatise and build relatability around the topic.
  7. Curate well-being-themed care packs for Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) students.
  8. Design and co-run workshops with community partners for residents to improve and maintain mental well-being.

Our impact

  • 8 FGDs - Held intimate conversations with >60 residents from all selected neighbourhoods
  • 15 crochet workshops - Engaged 100 residents from all 5 divisions in weaving the crochet installations
  • 13 curated community events - Enjoyed by more than 235 residents from all selected neighbourhoods
  • Care packs distributed to 8 schools - Given to more than 1800 PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) going students
  • Over 15 Partners - Engaged over 15 partners including student groups, non-profits, and ground-up groups. 
A woman speaking into a microphone in front of a group of people.

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