Church mental health charity, Clarity, co-organises talk on coping with anxiety

Dr Raja Sathy Velloo and Cenacle Sr Linda Lizada speaking at the talk.Dr Raja Sathy Velloo and Cenacle Sr Linda Lizada speaking at the talk.

Almost 10 percent of people in Singapore suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders, according to a study of mental disorders here. However, they generally wait six to nine years before seeking help.

Dr Raja Sathy Velloo, an associate consultant in the Department of Community Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, shared this information with about 100 people who attended a talk on anxiety.

The event, held at Agape Village on July 9, was a joint collaboration between Church mental health charity, Clarity Singapore, and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Thrive, a community mental health programme managed by the hospital.

In his talk, Dr Raja Velloo explained that the term “anxiety disorders” is an umbrella term encompassing many different types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a basic emotion that everyone has and it helps people to perform well in their tasks, he said.

However, when the anxiety level becomes overwhelming, it affects a person’s ability to function. This is when treatment is necessary.

Dr Raja Velloo shared that the types of anxiety disorders prevalent in Singapore include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (excessive anxiety about everyday life events) and agoraphobia (irrational fear of being in places where escape is difficult or embarrassing).

He also shared the different treatment methods available, such as medication, psychotherapy, art therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, community nursing and occupational therapy.

In response to a question on therapies available, he recommended the THRIVE website (thrive.org.sg) for online therapy.

Cenacle Sr Linda Lizada, spiritual director of Clarity, also spoke at the talk.

She described five ways in which people can handle anxiety in their lives – through gratification, repression, suppression, sublimation, and respectful and friendly integration.

Gratification is an invitation to people to move out of their current anxious situation and to think about what they can do about it. Repression invites the person to look at his or her current behaviour and ask where that behaviour came from.

Suppression is an invitation to be aware of and accept what one is experiencing, and to reflect on what this situation is telling oneself.

Sublimation calls us a person to rechannel his energies into something creative, growth-filled and life-giving to others.

Finally, respectful and friendly integration refers to communicating with one’s anxiety and questioning it in order to grow.

If you know of anyone who is suffering from anxiety and wishes to seek help, you may refer them to Clarity Singapore (6757-7990) or the 24-hour IMH Mental Health Helpline (6389-2222).

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