Weird, violent and hyperactive. These were the misconceptions I had of mentally ill people before I started volunteering for IMHope, a project under the NUSSU Voluntary Action Committee (NVAC). Till today, the mentally ill are often misunderstood and stigmatized by society. This exhibition shows the artistic talents of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) residents, and aims to reduce the prejudices that we often have for the mentally ill.
IMHope was first started in 1996 by a group of undergraduates. We visit IMH every Saturday afternoon to interact with the residents of our adopted wards. Currently, we are volunteering with a group of long-staying adult male patients. We interact with them through activities such as playing cards, board games and mahjong; drawing and colouring; and visiting places of interest like East Coast Park and the Singapore Zoological Gardens. Interacting with the volunteers reminds the residents that they are not being abandoned by society. Most of the residents suffer from schizophrenia, a type of illness caused by chemical imbalances in the brain which create disruptions in mood, behaviour, perception and communication. With the right medication, they are able to control the symptoms. However, many of them have short attention spans due to their medication conditions and the side effects of their medication. Thus, exhibiting their artworks at the ArtsBuzz represents a major accomplishment to them.
We hope that through this exhibition, the residents will improve their self-esteem and gain greater acceptance from society. These drawings were selected from a large collection of artworks done by the residents of our adopted wards during our weekly sessions. As Michael Jackson had contributed in healing the world—be it financially through charity or emotionally through his music and performances—we wanted to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to him. We find some of his songs really meaningful and inspiring, and have arranged the artworks around the themes of these songs.
If you’re inspired or have a burning passion to volunteer, you’re most welcome to join us! For more information, please contact our Project Director, Tan Wee Boon, at email@example.com.
On behalf of IMHope and our residents,
Zheng Huili, 3rd year student