Struggling with mental health, these young people in Singapore are turning to Discord for peer support

1 month ago 172

SINGAPORE – When they were struggling with their mental health, Jade and Annabelle, two women in their 20s, looked for peer support online.

Both came across an unconventional source of support – a Discord server run by It All Starts Hear SG, a social enterprise set up to provide community-based mental health support.

Discord, an online platform largely used by gamers and hobbyists, was released in 2015 but picked up steam amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It allows for servers to be created, which like-minded people can join to interact with others through voice, text or video. Within the servers, channels can be curated for various interests or topics.

The Sunday Times found several Discord servers set up in Singapore in recent years with an aim of creating a space for young people to seek mental health support from their peers. 

While numbers are small, both the members and those who run the servers cite anonymity and better user safety as a key benefit of using the platform.

These include servers by IASH.SG, youth mental health charity Limitless, and Huddleverse, a mental health start-up founded by Singaporean Viaano Spruyt.

'Being anonymous makes it easier for me to be vulnerable'

Annabelle, who declined to give her full name, said she joined the IASH.SG server in October 2022 to find like-minded people going through mental health struggles.

She had attended an in-person peer support group before, but felt it was not a good fit. "I am too shy and introverted, but the people there were very expressive and eloquent," she said.

"I have social anxiety so it takes time for me to warm up to people that I have just met. Being anonymous makes it easier for me to be vulnerable."

Dr Ang Hernping, psychologist and founder of IASH.SG, said the server was set up to create a safe place to find peer support anonymously, while guiding at-risk youth into its support system.

It has grown to 425 members, mostly aged between 15 and 30, since it started in January 2022, added Dr Ang.

"Through server and private chats, we've helped people feel comfortable enough to seek help – such as at the Institute of Mental Health, private psychiatrists or therapy, or IASH.SG's counselling and therapy services," he said.

Psychology practice Annabelle Psychology also created a server in 2020. There are more...

Read Entire Article