Polytechnic's play focuses on mental health
Polytechnic's drama club stages play to highlight importance of support
Mental health has become a global issue, and it has grown in Singapore too, said Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education, in a Facebook post on Friday.
According to a 2016 study by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), one in seven people in Singapore has been involved with a mental health disorder in their lifetime, but only 78 per cent sought help.
Raising awareness of mental health is the reason why the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) drama club SP Theatre Compass staged a play titled Off Centre last Wednesday.
Mr Kane Flaherty, 28, an instructor of the club who directed the play, said he hoped the production would inspire others to understand what it is like to live with mental illnesses and how to support those having it.
He told The New Paper: "We need more players to talk about mental health to make it less daunting for those who are afraid to seek professional help. Mental illnesses are not just about its medical aspect but about the people supporting you too."
Off Centre was part of the polytechnic's annual Arts Fiesta, a month-long celebration of dance, music and theatre, and tickets for the play were sold out.
It featured a protagonist named Mak, which means mother in Malay, a widow with a daughter who has schizophrenia.
Mak was played by Miss Ili Batrisyia, vice-president of the club and a second-year student from SP's diploma in applied drama and psychology.
Miss Ili, 18, told TNP that the cast members took the extra step of consulting healthcare professionals from IMH to ensure that their characters were as accurate as possible.
She said: "I wanted to bring a sense of justice to my character and hopefully those who are going through the same can resonate with Mak."
Miss Ili added that Mak's character reminded her of her mother, who would still put on a smile through the toughest situations.
In 2014, Miss Ili's elder brother died and her father became an amputee two years ago.
Despite that, she said, her mother has always been the backbone of the family.
She agreed with Mr Flaherty that having a good support system is important when dealing with mental health.
"They may feel helpless and alone. That's why it's important to have people to lean on," she said.