Selected Work

Singapore Mental Health Film Festival 2019


Singapore Mental Health Film Festival 2019

Background Research
According to the second Singapore Mental Health Study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health during 2016-2018, research found 1 in 7 Singaporeans have a mental health issue. The proportion of people with mental disorders who were not seeking help remains high, and a significant treatment gap remains.

The 2016 study showed an increase in lifetime prevalence of mental illness at 13.9% – or 1 in 7 persons. The 2010 study found that 12% of the Singapore population – or 1 in 8 persons – had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in mental health awareness in Singapore including the 2019 President's Challenge on mental health, Beyond the Label campaign by the National Council of Social Services and Hope Through the Night campaign by the Samaritans of Singapore.

The launch of the inaugural Singapore Mental Health Festival in 2019 brings a timely contribution to the national mental health conversation in Singapore.

Over the course of the 4 day event, we welcomed over 1600+ guests who largely comprised of youth and young adults. The mostly sold-out program included 8 screenings of international and local feature and short films, each accompanied by a panel discussion comprising of medical professionals, caregivers and persons-in-recovery. We also hosted 8 mindfulness workshops held concurrently with the screenings.

Creative Direction
Our main target audience for the festival was youth and young adults, a vulnerable age-group in terms of those struggling with mental health issues. Through our qualitative research, we found that there were a high number of youth who felt that they did not have adequate support at home, at school and in the workplace. There was a need to be heard and a constant fear of being judged.

With this in mind, we set out to create an open and inclusive tone for the festival that would translate across all our print, digital and social channels. We were mindful of using simple and honest language free from jargon and medical terminology. This allowed us to reach out to people who didn’t necessarily have much knowledge about mental illnesses but were interested to learn more about how to care for themselves or loved ones around them. It was important for the visual communication to be approachable but not trivialise the realities of having a mental illness.

We understood the impact of community and wanted to start this initiative by building a supportive ecosystem of people from all walks of life. Through laying a foundation of honesty, kindness, empathy and compassion, we were able to make way for meaningful connections and sharing of experiences.

SMHFF is an initiative by The Breathe Movement
Festival Director: Cheryl Tan
Creative Director: Su-An Ng
Video by The Magic Format
Photography by Shao Kai Chng, Eason Pek and Patrick Khoo

A film festival like this focussing on mental health can help members of the public be more opened-minded, acquire more information and knowledge about other people who are not like them.
— Tina Hung, Deputy CEO National Council of Social Service
Some recent studies done by the Institute of Mental Health have shown that there’s a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health issues. It’s important for government and corporates to work together. It takes a village and it’s everyone’s business. All of us need to come together because mental health issues are very common.
— Dr Swapna Verma, Chief - Early Psychosis Intervention Programme, Institute of Mental Health Singapore
An event like this is important because it opens up conversations and eyes. It’s these conversations that challenge current thinking and preconceptions and hopefully it will help destigmatize mental illness — not just in theory but in our day-to-day interactions.
— Dr Mok Yee Ming, Chief - Department of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Institute of Mental Health Singapore