By: Raag Sudha
A new Ground-Up Initiative has been turning heads in the USP community.
The new GUI, “Love, USP”, started with the intention of creating a peer-supported safe space in an environment of “critical” learners, said its founders Chua Khai Qing and Natalya Wickramasuriya, who started it together with Hillary Tan.
The year two psychology majors saw a scope for this initiative after speaking to the pastoral care counsellor in USP, Ms Ng Yun Sian. They added that USP students tend to be very critical of both others as well as themselves.
Khai Qing said: “Good things are easy to share with other people, but when it comes to dealing with sensitive, emotional feelings, we usually don’t want other people to know.”
“[We want] to maintain some sort of image that we’re doing well [academically]…But deep down, in USP, quite a number of people are struggling through all these issues,” she added.
With this in mind, the GUI wants to create a community where people can feel comfortable being open about these issues. They also hope to establish a peer support system here in USP.
Students that The Cinnamon Roll spoke to want such a system here, noting that it is different from the existing resources that are available in USP and NUS as a whole.
Year two Ko Chang Ming said: “The counselling services generally [employ] a top-down approach which is sanctioned by the university. But sometimes because it is not student-run, the target audience is limited.”
Year two Mark Goh said: “If done right, “Love, USP” can value-add because, with regards to mental illness, people tend to only find help if they are comfortable with the people.”
“By raising awareness, they can better act as a bridge between students and the people certified to help,” he added.
And this is exactly what the GUI intends to do. As a start, they aim to make their presence known by raising awareness of themselves and the issue.
They kick started with an initiative earlier in the semester where members of the GUI handed out balloons and encouraging quotes that were contributed by our own USP students.
Year two student Samara Gan said: “The quotes and balloons were quite unexpected and the surprise brightened up my day.”
On 10 October, “Love, USP” also launched an initiative in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, where students took polaroid pictures with friends and wrote accompanying messages to encourage each other.
With regards to these acts of kindness, year two student Nicholas Tan said: “It’s nice to have a community that cares.”
Polaroids and encouraging notes were compiled and pasted on the board at the lobby for World Mental Health Day which was on 10th October.
Encouraging quotes were compiled and printed on these cards to be given at the Dining Hall during breakfast.
Edited (28/10): “said its founders Chua Khai Qing and Natalya Wickramasuriya” to “said Chua Khai Qing and Natalya Wickramasuriya, who started it together with Hillary Tan”.