More studying to help others with mental health amid Covid-19
For Ms Stella Pong, the call to help people cope with difficult life situations dates back to her school days, when her teachers helped her deal with her father's death.
With the Covid-19 situation in Singapore, the 25-year-old noticed more people around her suffering from anxiety, which motivated her to pursue a postgraduate education in counselling.
In January, the e-commerce product manager decided to enrol in the Master of Counselling (Advanced) offered by private institution Executive Counselling and Training Academy (Ecta) in collaboration with Australia's Swinburne University of Technology.
Ms Pong is part of a growing number of Singaporeans who have shown interest in this field amid the pandemic.
According to Ecta, there was a 43 per cent surge in new student enrolment between 2019 and 2020 - from 116 to 166.
About one-third of new students for the 2020 intake were aged 35 and younger.
Ms Pong, who graduated with an engineering degree from Nanyang Technological University, is hoping to explore how technological innovations can serve as supplements to increase the efficacy and effectiveness of traditional face-to-face counselling.
She told The New Paper: "It also allows more examination on how we can improve delivering mental health services for those in need under such unique circumstances and what we can do as pre-emption moving forward."
Unlike Ms Pong's crossover, her classmate, 34-year-old Bryan Ng, is taking this chance to circle back to one of his longtime passions.
The ActiveSG Football Academy coach majored in psychology at Singapore Management University.
Mr Ng is a former national rugby player, and he initially considered psychology a tool to help him understand and win over others.
After taking more classes, he realised that the discipline can be used to help those who are facing difficulties or struggling mentally.
He said: "As a teacher, you need to be a lot of things to the kids - a teacher, a coach, a parent, a friend and a counsellor."
Professor Tan Chue Tin, Ecta's chairman and a consultant psychiatrist, said that the uptick among Singaporeans keen to be trained in mental health helping skills during the pandemic is a silver lining that bodes well for our ability to support one another as individuals and as a society.