In order to better understand the struggles people with mental disabilities face, Audrina Tan, a third-year Psychology Major from the National University of Singapore, decided to volunteer at the National University Hospital (NUH).
The 21-year-old, who is a mental health advocate, was the only volunteer at NUH’s psychiatric ward between November 2019 and February 2020. She is also a scholar with the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF).
Before the pandemic, Audrina made it a point to visit and volunteer at the hospital weekly. There, she kept the patients company, interacting and doing handicrafts with them. “I’ve always found meaning in counselling and lend a listening ear to the people around me,” she says. But due to the pandemic, visitations to public healthcare institutes were restricted and regulated. As a result, her plans to volunteer were put on hold.
Even so, that still did not deter her. Audrina, along with her teammates, came up with a series of ideas, such as virtual celebrations, to continue engaging the patients. “We didn’t want them to feel like they have been left out due to the pandemic,” Audrina says.
The 22-year-old is no stranger to volunteering. According to her, she and her younger brother, under their parents’ encouragement, would spend the festive seasons volunteering at elderly or children’s homes.
“My experience as a volunteer at the psychiatric ward at NUH empowered me to make a difference in the lives of others,” Audrina says, on her experience volunteering at NUH.
This story was translated from Lianhe Zhaobao (January 4, 2022) with additional reporting by Sng Ler Jun.