Advocates: Goh Shuet-Li

On top of managing her family business, she runs a community to help people struggling with mental illness.

Advocates: Goh Shuet-Li

One in seven people in Singapore have experienced a mental disorder. Goh’s Resilience Collective aims to build an inclusive community for persons recovering from mental health or traumatic experiences.

“I read law and practised briefly before I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I went into stockbroking and did institutional equity sales, before eventually joining the family business La Putri in 2000. La Putri is a fine jewellery brand founded by my mother Wan Ming Chin 45 years ago and is now run by my sister and I. Our designs are enjoyed by socialites and actresses like Amy Cheng and Constance Lau, who wore them to last year’s Crazy Rich Asians premiere.

“As a woman who has to juggle my career with responsibilities as a mother and wife, I understand very well how stress affects our mental well-being and why it is important to learn to manage it. This led me to get involved with Resilience Collective, which was co-founded by Hsieh Fu Hua and Chan Chia Lin from BinjaiTree as well as Caregivers Alliance. Mental illness can be treated but many may not know they have it. Or they may not want to seek help because of the public and self-stigma.

“As a board member and executive director at Resilience Collective, I work on content and programme development. My team develops initiatives and solutions to empower people dealing with mental health issues and raise awareness for mental health among the community. We are working with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), National Council of Social Services and Agency for Integrated Care in these areas.

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“Resilience Collective provides peer support for people recovering from mental illness via co-production, so everyone has equal opportunities to contribute towards the solution and recovery. We believe that these outcomes can be operationalised in the future to help others. This is a departure from the traditional professional-led methodology.

“We don’t tackle any specific mental health condition; we are not clinical practitioners. Symptoms may differ but the effects are the same—feelings of loss, helplessness and hopelessness.

“Studies show that medical and professional support is important for recovery, and the impact can be enhanced through a more holistic programme. The impact is especially meaningful when there’s support from a peer, that is, someone else who shared the same experience. Anecdotal evidence indicates that this knowledge that another person has gone down the same journey to recovery offers hope; so instead of being resigned to their condition, some patients at IMH shifted to rehabilitation and got discharged.

“Since June, we have rolled out several workshops to reach out to people with mental conditions; take Art of Friendship, which teaches ways to reintegrate into the community. We are also organising outreach and engagement programmes such as Sleep Talk, which focuses on achieving quality sleep.

“Just like any other illness, mental illness can be managed. It shouldn’t define a person. That’s why we want to push for a mindset change and I believe education goes a long way. Just like others, a person with mental illness must overcome all challenges in order to reintegrate into society. By drawing on a peer’s experience and using it as a tool of empowerment, one can become truly resilient.”

This story first appeared in the August issue of A.

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