Emerson Kennedy, 16, is one of the founders of the Feel Good Guys, which aims to start meaningful conversations about mental health. Their aim is to help encourage people to open up about their problems amidst a society that tends to stigmatise mental health issues. They have designed conversation cards with prompts to help guide good and healthy conversations about mental health. He shared with us what he has learnt from his experience.Hi Emerson! Tell us more about yourself and what you are up to now.
I am a Secondary 4 student at New Town Secondary School. I’m taking my ‘O’ Level exams at the end of the year. I serve as my school’s Peer Support Leader (PSL), where we are trained to look out for our peers’ mental well-being.Tell us about Feel Good Guys.
The Feel Good Guys is a group looking to help shift Singaporeans’ view of mental health. We chose the name as it rolls off the tongue and represents how we want people to feel. Through our projects, we want to be able to normalise talking about feelings, have people take mental health seriously and connect with the right people for support.What inspired you and your team to start this project?
Nowadays, on top of a stressful school and work environment, people are often looking for the next opportunity in their life. This leads to neglect of their mental well-being and burnout.
We want people to know that our mental health is just as important, if not more important, than our physical health. Taking care of ourselves in that regard does not make us “weak”.Is there any specific reason that you chose young people as your target demographic?
It is an optimal age range to develop habits they can bring into their adulthood. These habits made at an early age can help set them on a trajectory that would lead into better living in the future.
This being said, our projects are not limited to just the youth. It is never too late to change your mindset. We are dynamic beings, constantly in flux.If you could share one thing with your fellow youths, what would you share?
I would like to share a story I hold very close to my heart about a boy who walked along a beach, seeing hundreds of starfish wash up on the shore, doomed to dry out and die. On each visit to the beach, the boy would pick up a couple of starfish and toss them back into the ocean, giving them another chance at life.
A man approached the boy and asked, “Why do you do this? Hundreds of starfish wash up on the shore every day. You can’t possibly reach all of them, so why bother?” The boy then looks at the man and then down at a starfish at his feet. He picks it up and throws it back into the ocean, and says, “It mattered to that one.”
Every action has an impact. Even if it doesn’t seem as such in the grand of things, it still matters to someone. Being able to do what little you can to contribute to the progress of society is something that I believe everyone is able to do. Never belittle your efforts!What plans do you have for the future? New initiatives or projects?
Looking forward, the team at Feel Good Guys plans to develop more initiatives aimed at raising awareness about mental health and its effects. We want to use social and networking platforms.
We are also still looking for ways to develop the conversation through the cards we have!