SINGAPORE: An old primary school in Singapore is getting a new lease of life as a mental health hub.
Kampung Siglap, which sits on the premises of the former Siglap Primary School, offers wellness programmes like retreats and life skills training for social service professionals and vulnerable families.
At the new facility run by New Hope Community Services, careworn social service professionals can attend a well-being retreat fully funded by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). They can participate in sports, arts and crafts, and talks on mental wellness and how to recognise burnout.
Since being launched in August last year, the Wellness Programme for Social Service Professionals has attracted nearly 20 workers every month.
Similarly, families that are beneficiaries of social service agencies like former residents of homeless shelters, can attend retreats that will include workshops and activities to help them get back on their feet.
CREATING A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
Pastor Andrew Khoo, founder and chief executive officer of New Hope, who has experience running a shelter for years, said the inspiration behind having retreats came from wanting to create a more conducive and interactive environment for engagement.
"When clients move out from the shelter, I feel that there's just a change in their address. But they're still stuck in a poverty mindset. There isn't a change in terms of life perspective – how they look at their job, relationship, everything else,” he said.
“So there is a need to change their mindset. And the best way to do that is through a retreat setting like in Kampung Siglap."
He added that the hub will also serve social service professionals, as research has shown that their jobs can cause them to be highly stressed.
On the choice of location, Mr Khoo said that while there are other vacant schools, some of them are too big or too rundown. He added that being in an “asset rich” community is an advantage.