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Fashion

Fashion & Mental Health: The Influence Of Social Media, How To Help & More

For all of fashion’s finery and glamour, mental health isn’t something that it’s nailed going by the luminaries it has claimed (this year marks the 10th anniversary of Alexander McQueen’s tragic suicide). The stress and burnout that come with the industry’s cut-throat pace for ideas, merchandise and content mean that those working in it are 25 per cent more likely than others to experience some sort of mental illness, according to reports. The good news: conversation about it has been rousing in recent years, especially within the creative community.

On new platforms one can turn to for help

RP:Your Head Lah! is a mental health collective and online publication started in 2018 that amplifies marginalised voices. It advocates for community care and the recognition of structural factors in the cause of mental illness. The team is in the midst of compiling a list of good therapists with notes on those who are queer-affirming, racial oppression aware etc.”

NK: “I know that the local start-up Safe Space is trying to create an app that makes communication between users and counsellors easier. I’ve tried calling services like Samaritans of Singapore myself, but couldn’t get through. When I was doing research for my EP, I also realised there are a lot of people working in these specialised institutions who don’t understand how to communicate with people struggling with mental health issues. That said, I was at *Scape recently and noticed this place on the top floor called CHAT (short for Community Health Assessment Team and formed in 2009, this is an organisation of healthcare professionals who provide mental health assessments to those aged between 16 and 30) and took some brochures that were quite helpful.”

On changes they’d like to see implemented here

SN: “As a small business owner, I’m at work every day and have a personal relationship with everyone who works here, so I’m able to talk to them one on one and understand them better… What I’d like to see is big companies making systematic change and implementing policies that allow their employees to have more of such conversations and not just among those on the same hierarchy level, but also directed towards those who are higher up in the chain of command… We also need to better educate children from a younger age to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness. People need to take this matter more seriously because from my own experience, people get really uncomfortable when you try to talk about it. Sometimes it’s not because they don’t want to, but more that they don’t know how to.”

NK: “I’d like to see people slow down a bit and place greater value on holistic things that can’t be easily quantifiable – art or dog walks for example; things that help keep us in touch with reality. That also means more spaces in nature where people can pull away from the hustle and bustle and find some peace.” RP: “There are so many small changes that can be implemented in the short term and alleviate the situation. For example, school counsellors shouldn’t have to disclose personal information, insurance companies should start covering mental health and there should be a thorough review of institutionalisation practices.”

NN: “In Singapore, I don’t think that we have fully explored technology’s potential in providing mental health support and intervention. I would like to see more local e-mental health services here. With the availability of more such services, I believe more youth will be able to get the help that they need.”

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

This article first appeared in the April 2020 Reality Edition of FEMALE.