How to Take Care of Your Mental Health (Tips from Mental Wellness Groups on Campus)

The stress of school can often be overwhelming, especially as we enter the last stretch of the semester. With never-ending assignments to do and tests to study for, it’s easy for us to neglect not just our physical health (replacing sleep with coffee, anyone?), but also our mental health. Here at Reslife, we’re familiar with the struggle, and we want to encourage you to make your mental health a priority.

With the help of three Mental Wellness Groups on campus, we’ve compiled some tips on how to take care of your mental health as we approach the gruelling part of the semester, so read on – for your mental health deserves care and conversation!


I. Love, USP

Love, USP AY21/22 Exco

Love, USP is a mental health-focused interest group in Cinnamon College. From 25 to 29 October 2021, Love, USP engaged in a large-scale collaboration with multiple student groups, namely – USC Welfare, USCaffeinated, USClassical,  USCrafts and USPermaculture, in a bid to organise various “Chilling Sessions” for the wider student population. These Chilling Sessions consisted of myriad fun activities for USP students to learn practical ways to take care of their mental health. Based on the insights from these activities, Ryan Kwok (Year 2, Computing, Love, USP Co- I/C) shares a few key tips for all of us below:


1. Use a Mental Health Tracker

Mental Health Tracker Template and Instructions

Sometimes, we may not realise that stress is building and affecting us mentally until one day, we just break down completely from the pressure. In order to prevent this, a mental health tracker is extremely helpful in creating space each day to feel your feelings and be mindful of your overall mental well-being. It is essentially a daily log of things pertaining to your mental health – some examples include tracking your mood or whether you have met your own self-care goals. By externalising your thoughts and emotions on paper, this can help you understand how to manage them instead of bottling up these feelings.


Here are some ideas on what you might want to include in your own mental health tracker:

  1. Mood of the day: How are you feeling today
  2. Things that made you happy: What or who are they?
  3. Sleep log: How many hours did you sleep today?
  4. Daily self-care list: Did you drink enough water and sleep enough? Did you take ample breaks in between work?
  5. Gratitude log: What are you thankful for today?


Headed by USCrafts, the mental health tracker activity aims to give students time to design their very own mental tracker, allowing them to monitor their mental health through the difficult weeks leading to the end of the semester.


2. Drink Calming Teas

Poster advertising Love USP’s Wellness Tea Session

It is widely known that certain teas have positive effects on the body, such as promoting relaxation, relieving stress, improving sleep, easing constipation, and increasing alertness. (No, unfortunately, we’re not talking about bubble tea!) If you’re feeling stressed, USCaffeinated has some tips on teas you can consider trying:


1. Calming Teas

Calming Teas are teas that are usually herbal and caffeine free. Chamomile-infused teas are great for relaxation (eg. Pukka Love). Additionally, teas with peppermint are good for soothing headaches (eg. Pukka Cleanse Organic). If you want to try these teas out, the Pukka tea series can be bought from your local FairPrice/Cold Storage!


2. Low-Caffeine Teas

Low-caffeine teas are good if you’re weaning yourself from coffee and need a transition drink. Generally, green, white and oolong teas have lower amounts of caffeine as opposed to black and red teas.


The Wellness Tea Session by USCaffeinated provides free samples of calming teas to USP students – reminding them that that there are healthy and yummy alternatives for relaxing


3 .Listen to Classical Music

Source: USC News


Sure, classical music may not be your go-to music choice, but did you know it has some serious mental health benefits? Not only does it reduce the stress hormone – cortisol – but it also promotes the secretion of oxytocin, which uplifts your mood, and melatonin, which helps you sleep better. In order to boost your mood and relieve anxiety, you can consider playing some classical music while you study, or during your breaks. Maybe even as you’re getting ready in the morning, to boost your day!

Check out this classical music playlist curated by a member of USClassical who has generously shared it with us: 0b922bd4653


II. Love Tembusu

Love Tembusu is a mental wellness advocacy group in Tembusu. Through planning mental health initiatives and events, the group advocates for the importance of mental wellbeing to Tembusians and provides ways to destress and practise self-care. Tammy Tan (Year 2, Business Administration, Love Tembusu Head) shares with us some insights from the group’s mental health initiatives that we, too, can apply so as to take better care of our mental health:


1. Find a Comforting and Safe Space

When life gets overwhelming, it helps to have a safe and comforting space to step back from the chaos of expectations and deadlines being thrown at us. Even if just for a moment, this safe space is where you can allow yourself to feel your emotions, instead of trying to bottle it all up. Be it a specific corner of your room, a park bench, or anywhere at all – find a place to process your emotions freely and slowly. Once you are done, you will leave with a much lighter heart and a clearer mind.

The Oasis, a room for Tembusians to take care of their mental wellbeing

The Oasis is an example of a safe space that Love Tembusu has created for all Tembusians to relax and tend to their wellbeing in. It is carefully constructed to offer a safe, quiet and cozy atmosphere. For instance, the room has several live plants that aid in detoxifying the air and even a water fountain to add white noise to the room. The room has been well received by Tembusians, with many choosing to go there to unwind after a submission or a long day. Tembusian Teo Ming Huang (Year 2, Computer Science) remarked, “When I’m there, I just allow myself to feel and not think.” Tembusian Jane Ee (Year 1, Medicine) agreed: “The dim orange lights and sound of water in the background sets up the perfect reflective mood.”


2. Practise Gratitude

While deceptively simple, learning to practise gratitude for the little things each day is a mindful action and can be very beneficial for your mental health. Pausing to reflect on the good things will help us magnify them, instead of worrying about what we don’t have. Incorporate gratitude into your life by writing down one to two things you are thankful for at the end of each day. Soon enough, you will find yourself feeling more content and happier. ☺


Participants penning down words of gratitude during Love Tembusu’s Gratitude Workshop


Love Tembusu employed this practice of gratitude through a workshop where participants could pen down some words of thanks either to others or for themselves. Upon going through the workshop, Sahil Arora (Year 1, Business Administration) wisely remarked, “Taking some time to offer gratitude to a special person or even to yourself is an act of kindness to yourself.”  Jane mused: “Sometimes human greed gets the better of us and we get too caught up with what we don’t have. This usually means we forget to stop and be thankful for what we already have. I enjoyed living and thinking in the moment and penning down what I’m grateful for in the ‘here’ and ‘now’.” Truly, reflecting on our blessings is a simple but powerful way to uplift our spirits.


3. Share Your Burden With Others

Source: Satria

One stick is easily broken, but a bundle of sticks is harder to break. When we learn to lean on our communities for support, we will find that we are stronger and more equipped to tackle whatever life throws at us. You don’t have to face your giants alone. A lighter heart awaits you as you share your burdens and struggles with those whom you trust.


We Are Not Really Strangers – game that Love Tembusu uses in their mental health conversation sessions; Source: Yahoo

In the spirit of deepening connections and encouraging Tembusians to serve as each other’s support systems, Love Tembusu organises mental-health related conversations every three weeks. Such conversations have been useful for participants to reap the benefits of sharing their burdens with others. Mrinal Ganesh (Year 2, Computer Science) reflected: “It was reassuring to know that we were not alone in the emotions and stress that we felt, and it was also eye opening to hear other participants’ approaches on how they coped with similar emotions they experienced. I left this activity feeling more relaxed and composed.”


III. King Edward VII’s Peer Support Groups (KEVII’s PSG)

Posters advertising KEVII’s Peer Support Group and their events

KEVII’s PSG is an entirely student-led initiative that focuses on providing peer support to residents. Peer Support Leaders (PSLs) proactively identify residents who are potentially distressed and provide a safe space for these residents to share about any struggles they may be facing. Additionally, PSLs organise activities to raise awareness of the importance of having open conversations about one’s mental health.

While we have discussed much about how to take care of your own mental health, living on campus means being part in a community and having ample opportunities to care for the mental health of those around you. Charis Soon (Year 3, Pharmacy, KEVII PSG Head) and Teh Xue Yong (Year 3, Computing, KEVII PSG Vice Head) share with us some key insights they have gleaned from being a PSL:


1. Check In Regularly and Intervene Early

Source: Mama Mia

First, if you notice that a friend has been more withdrawn or down in the dumps lately, it is important to intervene early and offer your support before the situation gets worse. Charis notes, “Mental health issues always lie on a spectrum, and it is easier to support them when they are early on in the spectrum where the situation may be less severe.” This is why having a community of friends to check in on each other regularly is key in providing timely support. It is also crucial to note that since you are not a professional therapist, you may not be completely equipped to help them work through their struggles. In such cases, you can direct and encourage your friends to seek professional help if needed.


2. Be A Friend

Peer support is not an activity, but a process. Viewing people that you support not as a “case” through, but an actual person who is a friend, is important. Peer support is akin to nurturing a friendship built on trust and respect for each other’s boundaries – knowing when to listen and comfort, and when to give advice. Your friend is a person, not a project – be genuine and be present.


3. Provide a Safe and Supportive Environment

The KEVII PSG team also found that residents are not always comfortable when talking about their mental health issues. It is often challenging for residents to share their own experiences and struggles – being vulnerable is never easy. This is why a supportive culture is paramount, where experiences are listened to and addressed with utmost care.  Individuals don’t feel judged or worried that what they say may be dismissed or invalidated. If those around you can trust you to be a safe and supportive listening ear, they are more likely to share their struggles with you.

In order to improve the mental health literacy of their residents, KEVII’s PSG planned a series of dialogue sessions over the course of the year. The first session, held on 8 September 2021, was with SHINE Children and Youth Services, where the relationship between life stage transitions and mental health was discussed. The session effectively equipped their residents with skills to converse within their friend circles about mental health, thus allowing conversations surrounding mental health to be more normalised.


We hope these tips to take care of your mental health have been useful. As we enter into the busier and more daunting period of the semester, remember to take care of yourself and seek support if you need. Remember – you are not alone!


NUS University Counselling Services Hotline: 6516 7777.

National Care Hotline: 1800 202 6868.

Samaritans Of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

Institute Of Mental Health’s Mobile Crisis Service: 6389-2222


What are some other tips you have for taking care of your mental health? Do you know other places or groups on campus that are organised around supporting students through mental health issues? Tell us in the comments or DM us on our IG @nusresidentiallife!

Bethany Low

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