SINGAPORE - Brahm Centre, a mental health and wellness charity, has opened its Simei @ 148 branch to provide mental health support to young people, adults and seniors.

A key initiative at the branch at Block 148 Simei Street 1 is its youth care programme.

To encourage young people to pay more attention to their mental well-being, Brahm Centre offers mental health screening, emotional support through coaching and befriending, psychoeducation sessions, parenting support, as well as counselling and art therapy.

Associate Professor Angie Chew, founder and chief executive of the charity, said young people today face many issues, such as anxiety, and may experience inertia in seeking help.

“Brahm Centre serves as a sanctuary for youth to talk about their problems by encouraging them to pay more attention to their mental well-being and to reach out early,” she said.

Students aged 15 and above can enlist Brahm Centre’s help through a paid internship as part of their mental well-being journey.

The internship aims to develop their work skills. They also learn to develop mental resilience through a mindfulness course.

Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Singapore General Hospital are Brahm Centre’s healthcare partners. As part of job exposure and skills development, interns are assigned to these hospitals, where they will assist seniors in the pharmacies.

Bank of America sponsors Brahm Centre’s youth internship programme, and provides its interns with life coaches.

These life coaches provide guidance and emotional support to the interns, who are required to attend art therapy, communications, personal grooming and other workshops to understand themselves better.

Ms Ong Tze Yee, 22, who has a bachelor’s in psychological studies from James Cook University, has suffered from depression and is currently an intern at Brahm Centre.

She said the internship has provided her with opportunities to develop her confidence, and not be afraid of being open about her mental health issues. Her supervisor was able to ease her anxiety and helped her practise mindfulness.

“He advised that in the process of learning, I am bound to stumble and make mistakes, and worrying about what might happen would only distract me and take away the enjoyment of being in the present,” said Ms Ong.

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Brahm Centre also announced that it has expanded its services at its Simei @ 148 branch, an Active Ageing Centre (AAC) appointed by the Agency for Integrated Care. This is to meet increasing demands for mental wellness programmes.

These offerings complement those of another AAC, Simei @ 227 – located at Block 227 Simei Street 4 – which include wellness programmes like yoga, art and mindfulness, and care services.

The care services include counselling and depression and dementia screening.

Both centres will also provide Community Resource Engagement and Support Team and AAC services as part of Healthier SG, an initiative by the Ministry of Health that focuses on preventive care.

Ms Hannie Hay, centre manager for Brahm Centre’s Simei @ 148 and Simei @ 227 branches, conceptualised and curated programmes to cater to the needs of seniors in the community.

She said: “I took a look at other countries like Japan, Australia and Switzerland to see what seniors are doing over there. I also did home visits to understand the needs of seniors in our area.”

She learnt that seniors overseas did art and craft, socialising, dancing and music, and felt that these could be enjoyable activities for seniors in the Simei community.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat adding bamboo leaves to complete a chinese calligraphy and painting piece. PHOTO: BRAHM CENTRE

Mr Nirupan Navaneethan, 22, was an intern with Brahm Centre at Simei @ 148 from May to July in 2023. The second-year law undergraduate at the National University of Singapore said the internship helped him step out of his comfort zone and become more outgoing.

He credits this to the people he met at Simei @ 148, including Ms Hay.

Mr Nirupan said: “She would encourage me by telling me that I’m doing a good job. She would also give me useful tips on how to interact with the seniors.”

He added: “When I first saw some of the seniors, they were very reserved, similar to me in a sense. Now, seeing their smiles and knowing that I’m helping them to not be so alone and age more gracefully, it gives me fulfilment.”

Ms Hay hopes the Simei @ 148 branch will be an accessible mental health centre for all. She also hopes that it will allow young people to build rapport with others and remove the stigma of seeking help for mental health.

She said: “We want this to be a safe and inclusive environment. If you come in, and you’re not ready to talk, it’s okay to just hang around. Slowly get to know us and tell us when you are ready.”

Another centre for family-oriented programmes will be opened in Jurong East in the first quarter of 2024, targeting seniors, adults and young people.