Strengthening Familial Ties for Better Mental Health

Strengthening Familial Ties for Better Mental Health

Since young, Felicia Yong was placed under the care of a family friend. She only moved back home to live with her parents at age seven.  Initially hopeful of enjoying the warmth of a complete and loving family, Felicia soon had her hopes dashed. She found herself in a turbulent home environment as her parents fought often and had to become the mediator to calm tensions at home. Over time, she started to avoid the conflict and chose to hide in her room most of the time.  

At 14 years, Felicia found that she also had to learn to cope with comparisons made with her better-performing peers in school by teachers and parent.  This marked the start of a downward spiral of negative thoughts and feelings. With no one to turn to, Felicia turned to self-harming behaviour as an outlet to release her negativity. This also manifested into suicidal thoughts where she would plan how to end her life.  

Her self-harm behaviour caught the attention of an aunt when her parents were overseas. Her parents were informed and Felicia was brought to the emergency room of the Institute of Mental Health. From there, Felicia was referred to TOUCH Mental Wellness’ Supporting Youth in the Community (SYiNC), a community-based intervention and engagement programme for youths with mental health issues, where she began her counselling journey in April 2023.   

Finding Hope with Stronger Support

During the fortnightly sessions with her counsellor, Felicia has the opportunity to share about her struggles and gets to learn how to process them. These sessions allow her to gain greater awareness of herself and her family situation, which enabled her to explore healthier avenues of support and coping. This progressively allowed for emotional healing and greater stability of her mental health. She also works with her counsellor to draw up a suicide risk safety plan. Together with her father’s active involvement and support, Felicia's suicidal thoughts have greatly decreased, and she has been able to form a stronger relationship with her father.        

Her counsellor, Ms Savrina Shahi, recounts, “Her father has done a great amount of work towards self-improvement to provide Felicia the parental support she needs, and in turn, their relationship has vastly improved. This has been one of the most crucial aspects of Felicia’s healing and recovery.” 

Felicia shares, “My biggest takeaway from the counselling sessions is that it has given me a safe space to talk about my problems, and I am now more aware of myself. I have also learnt new coping skills to manage my emotions and reduce my self-harming behaviours and suicidal thoughts. Counselling has helped me through my worst times, and I really encourage everyone who needs a listening ear to go for professional help.” 

Felicia hopes to fully heal and lead a happier and healthier lifestyle. In future, she aims to become a Forensic Psychologist, as she has a keen interest in criminal psychology. 

TOUCH Mental Wellness (TMW) runs personalised therapy and counselling programmes to empower individuals to rise above their circumstances. An advocate of mental wellness, TMW has been organising mental wellness awareness mass runs, talks and workshops since 2015. It works closely with corporations to conduct mental wellness talks with an aim of equipping employees with handles to cope with stress and help them build resilience. It also specialises in mental wellness awareness and educational programmes for schools.

Story published in 2023