Mental health problems often get swept under the rug for two reasons. One, they are difficult to recognise as the symptoms tend not to be visible or obvious. (After all, “I’m fine” is our favourite reply to the “How are you” question, right?) Two, it takes strength, courage, and sometimes chance, to talk about mental health in everyday life, even if you’ve recognised the issues.
To that, and in line with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) have launched a campaign called “The Honest Cookie – Break a Cookie, Break the Silence”, that aims to get us opening up about mental health, as normally and honestly as possible.
In 2020, Singapore reported 452 suicide deaths, with the increase in number observed across all age groups. There’s no doubt that mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts have been fueled by stressors from the pandemic, from social isolation to job instability and financial worries.
Gasper Tan, chief executive of SOS said: “In most situations, family is the first line of support for many facing a crisis. We often do not realise how a simple act of concern can create a huge impact and potentially change someone’s life. We can start by showing our loved ones that we care by initiating a conversation and providing a listening ear.”
Mental health conversation starters we need
As seen from the video, having heartfelt conversations about mental health can be as easy as eating (and breaking) a cookie — the Honest Cookie, in this case.
Each Honest Cookie is baked with a different question inside, to kickstart honest, meaningful, and perhaps difficult conversations we need more of. Examples of questions are: “Who’s your go-to listening ear?”, “What’s one thing you never had a chance to share?”, and “What’s the one thing you found challenging lately?”.
We must say, this is definitely a more accessible and less awkward way to talk about mental health than sitting your friend and family member down with a “We need to talk”, or worse, bottling up your thoughts and emotions which can be detrimental to your well-being in the long run.
The Honest Cookies will be distributed across various community centres, social service centres as well as corporate organisations. But there’s a faster way to get them: Simply make a purchase from LiHo via foodpanda (available for both delivery and pick-up orders) to receive a free cookie, while stocks last.
“With the increase in suicide rates among our elderly and youth, we need to have more authentic conversations with our loved ones, to provide timely comfort and support,” said Vanessa Tan, strategic communications consultant and advisor for The Honest Cookie campaign. “Let us take this opportunity through this meaningful initiative to have that honest conversation with our loved ones today.”
To help create awareness of the #HonestCookieSG campaign (because why not?), share your cookie-breaking experience on social media by following these steps:
- Post a photo / video on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube account, sharing your experience of breaking open The Honest Cookie and having an honest conversation with someone else.
- Share more about who he/she is and what he/she means to you in the caption.
- Include hashtags #SamaritansofSingapore #HonestCookieSG and tag three other friends to do the same.
- Set your post / profile to public so that more people can benefit from your sharing.
From now till September 27, 2021, you can also donate an Honest Cookie for $2 via giving.sg to fund an honest conversation.
Visit the campaign website here for more details.