Schoolwork stress and mental health woes got you down? A listening ear could help greatly. In our previous article, we introduced UTown Residence’s new Residential Wellness Manager (RWM), Patrick. Here’s the good news – there is more than one incoming RWM! Wan Teng, the RWM for Prince George’s Park Residence (PGPR) shares more about herself and her role in this article, so do read on!
Hi Wan Teng, could you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Wan Teng! I am an RWM from Student Wellness.
What were your previous role(s)?
Previously, I was a youth worker from a voluntary welfare organisation for 7 years. After that, I was based in China for a year and a half, working in community development, under the same organisation. Following that, I returned to Singapore and joined a social service organisation as a social worker, before transitioning into being a stay-home mom for three and a half years!
What have you enjoyed doing recently?
I enjoy going outdoors with my kids – exploring new places to hike, cycling, and just having general outdoor-play as a family.
Have you frequented NUS before this?
Actually, no. However, when I was a youth worker, we conducted a student conference held at PGPR and hosted students from various campuses. Hence, I felt a sense of familiarity returning to PGPR for this new role!
Do you have any past experiences of working with student wellness matters?
When I was a youth worker, I mainly worked with polytechnic students. To some degree, I was able to extend mental health support, and encourage them to take care of their wellbeing. While it was not the core focus of my work at the time, I feel that it was part and parcel of my job as a youth worker.
When I was a social worker, my focus was not just with students, but with low-income families as well, in terms of promoting mental wellbeing and providing community resources for their overall wellbeing.
What do you think are the most prevalent issues that students face today?
I think that anxiety is a major concern for students today, as well as issues surrounding their relationships. This comes in the form of managing the relationships they have with others, coping with the emotions that arise, and articulating these emotions and drawing healthy boundaries for themselves and others.
Personally, how do you take care of your own wellbeing?
As I have two young children to take care of and time is very limited. Hence, simple things such as reading a book, spending time with my husband, watching movies together, going for massages, or even going grocery shopping alone, are quite therapeutic for me! The heart and mind can be quite cluttered at times, so I enjoy taking time off for myself to quietly settle in my own thoughts, and have some alone time.
Do you have any advice for students who currently feel anxious or alone?
Firstly, don’t think that what you face is weird or abnormal – such feelings and conditions are much more common than we think. A recent Student Life & Wellness survey conducted found that about 44% of students expressed that they experienced anxiety symptoms. Evidently, mental health issues are relatively widespread, and many of us experience them to varying extents. While some may cope with exercise, mindfulness practice, others may benefit from talking to mental wellness staff or counsellors. It is not shameful and perfectly acceptable to seek help. NUS has many mental health resources to support you.
Do you have any suggestions for students who potentially face mental health issues, but are at the moment unwilling/unable to reach out for help?
For these students, I refer to the Cycle of Change model.
Cycle of change (Source: The OAD Clinic)
There are six stages involved in the cycle. At every stage of change, we are able to provide different types of resources and support. In non-emergency situations, I would share useful mental health resources while waiting for them to contemplate, and prepare to eventually reach out for help. It ultimately takes two hands to clap – while we are always willing and happy to provide any mental health support that a student may require, they need to be ready to seek help as well.
What are your thoughts about students who have tried therapy, but didn’t find it effective?
I would personally want to hear more from the student regarding their experiences in therapy. There might have been a lack of chemistry between the therapist and the student, as it is difficult for one to find a therapist whom they truly connect with. This therapeutic relationship with one’s therapist has a significant impact on the power for one to change.
It is important to recognise that therapy does not serve as a quick fix – it is a long-term process that might not reveal any results or success at first. It is important for one to clarify expectations when going into therapy. I would advise students to be patient, and trust the process – do not be discouraged if therapy does not seem to work immediately.
Any parting words for students?
Know that I will always be a friendly face for you to talk to on campus!
Wan Teng with Patrick (UTR’s RWM)
Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful interview, Wan Teng! We hope that students reading this article now have a better understanding of the new RWM role, as well as what to expect in the upcoming semester. If you have any thoughts to share after reading this article, do post about it on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife, we would love to hear it.
In the meantime, we have compiled a short FAQ section on some lingering questions that you might have after reading this article, so read on!
Who should I approach? The Residential Wellness Manager (RWM) or Student Support Manager (SSM) of my faculty?
The short answer is: It does not matter – both are good options! NUS is committed to your mental health and wellness. Both the RWM and SSM can provide support to the residents with personal or mental health issues. It is really up to you who you want to talk to. The RWM and SSM are trained to refer you should you need other help and resources. You can discuss topics like academic concerns, relationships, personal goals and mental health challenges etc.
Can you tell me more about the RWM role?
An RWM’s main role is to provide emotional support to the residents with personal or mental health issues. They do check-ins and follow up with residents who are feeling overwhelmed or suffering from mental health challenges. RWM can also refer you to the University Counselling Services or University Health Centre if required. They can also accompany residents to see the counsellors especially when students are feeling uncomfortable or anxious about it.
What about the SSM?
An SSM also plays a supportive role similar to the RWM. In addition, if your concerns relate to academic issues, it would be ideal to make an appointment to see them first. SSM can advise on matters regarding modules, Leave of Absence and candidature.
Will other people get to know what I share with the staff?
The matters that you discussed are private. However, in order to render help, there are times that other parties need to be informed. Talk to your RWM or SSM about this.
I still think it is embarrassing to approach someone for help when I have some stress.
All of us go through some form of challenges and struggles from time to time. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but it is a sign of strength that you want things to get better! Seeking help from a RWM or SSM can provide you with other perspectives and options to your challenges and help you better cope with your concerns.