In the final segment of our Racial Harmony Awareness month series, we’d like to share some stories from our foreign peers. From being seen as outsiders, to confronting mental health topics with loved ones, let’s hear what our foreign peers have to share about their experiences living in Singapore.
Ivaan is from Bangladesh and Steven is from Mexico. Names have been changed to protect the identity of our interviewees.
1. Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your race in SG? If yes, can you give an example?
Yes definitely. I have had people make fun of me and call me “bangla” when I was young.
No. There’s often confusion about my ethnicity, and some ignorant comments, but no outright discrimination that I’ve noticed.
2. How are mental health issues seen/talked about among your family/community?
The older generation usually see it as a problem that they want gone fast and they’re usually impatient about it. They know it’s real but they don’t understand the full brevity of it. As for people my age (younger generation) they’re typically supportive and nice about it.
They’re not usually talked about in my family. The older generation prefers not to discuss such topics, and that’s filtered down a bit to my generation. However, my generation is still more open about it.
3. What kind of support do you wish you had for your community?
More support in general, especially providing mental health support that is affordable.
Can’t think of anything specific to my community, but I think better education for the older generation in general would be good. Too many older folk across various ethnic and racial lines think mental health issues are something to be ashamed of and not to be discussed with anyone. Also, financial help with mental health professionals would be good. Private therapists can be expensive, and not everyone can afford it. There should be subsidized plans for people who need the financial help like there is for physical health.
4. Would you go for counselling, or what would your family think if you went for counselling?
Yes I do go for counselling. My family is supportive but they also rush the healing process and pressure me to recover fast which isn’t very nice but they’re familiar with the idea of mental health issues since a lot of us have them.
I do go for counseling. My family accepts it, but they don’t really understand or even believe how or why it helps, which is another area they need to be educated on. To them, this is just airing personal dirty laundry to a stranger.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with mental health issues within your community?
Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to people you trust and to people who you think will be there for you because struggling alone is tough. You don’t have to do it alone as people in your support system will be more than happy to help you. Also, please know that mental health issues are common and understandable and you deserve all the support you need to recover.
See a therapist or counselor (if you can afford it). Talking to a professional can do wonders for one’s mental health.
We thank our two friends for taking the time to share their experiences with us and our fellow readers 🙂
Though the backbone of our economy and a large part of our population, foreigners (especially our foreign workers) remain as outsiders to the mainstream Singaporean society. Not only are they willing to take up jobs turned down by locals, but they are hardworking, diligent and reliable. They have and continue to give back to our country and its citizens in numerous ways. As such, we hope that this sharing will remind you to show some kindness and appreciation to foreigners in Singapore.
A Kind Place supports and is welcoming to everyone from all walks of life, gender identity, orientation, and backgrounds. If you have any questions or would like to book a session with us, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp us here.