Prioritising mental health and self-care at NUS

Setting aside time for self-care has become a priority for many of us, especially with the increasing emphasis on mental and physical well-being in recent years. To better support our students and staff in their self-care journey, different NUS units have been working together to drive well-being strategies, synchronise campus health promotion efforts and foster a culture of care at the University.

One such effort is the WellNUS Festival co-organised by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and the University Health Centre, in partnership with the Health and Wellbeing Unit. The festival returned for its third edition in October with a line-up of nearly 100 interest-based activities and informative virtual talks that saw a record number of participants. 

More than 3500 participants at WellNUS Festival 2022

Attracting over 1,800 students and 1,700 staff participants, this year’s month-long WellNUS Festival offered a wide range of workshops, from relaxing activities like aromatherapy and candle-making, to sports and fitness sessions like kayaking and Zumba as well as hobbies like baking and coffee-making. Students and staff learnt new ways to better manage their stress and practise self-care through curated activities that showcased the 7 PitStop Principles – a set of stress-management techniques that OSA encourages the community to adopt in their daily life.

Making a special appearance at the festival was Year 3 Dentistry student and winner of MasterChef Singapore Season 3, Jonathan Chew, who shared his love of cooking with fellow NUS students. He said, “I am very honoured to have the opportunity to hold a baking workshop with the rest of the NUS community.” Sharing that the workshop was an “incredibly fun” experience, he added that he was glad that the workshop offered a “timely opportunity to destress amidst a certainly very stressful exam season”.  

To remind students of the various PitStop Principles, several physical PitStops are located around campus, providing students with a cosy place to catch a breather and unwind amidst the daily rush. Whether it is indulging in a quick game on the Nintendo Switch or needing a listening ear, the Pitstops are available and open to all students. Peer Student Supporters and Student Wellness Managers are also onsite to provide care support where necessary.

Year 3 Nursing student Kenric Tan Yi Shu took time off to participate in an aromatherapy workshop. “I value the opportunity to explore crafts and practices that I have never tried before and taking a short break from school to recharge,” he said. "I would encourage my friends to stop by PitStop to relax and have fun even for just awhile, and try to practise the PitStop Principles or even regularly share their thoughts and feelings so they will not be bottled up.”  

Besides taking care of one’s mental health, WellNUS Festival was also a good opportunity to reconnect with old friends while making new ones. Teresa Byczkowski, a Year 1 Mathematics Masters and exchange student from Germany, said the canoe polo and KpopX Fitness sessions were amazing ways to spend time with friends and meet new faces. She added that the activities also provided a chance to unwind especially during the stressful periods of university life.

Despite being new to woodworking, Ms Prabashini Bava from the Office of Human Resources still had a great time-out away from the hustle and bustle of life. She shared, “I’m an avid believer of work-life balance, and had to sign up when I saw the title ‘Tech Detox’!” “The particular activity I had chosen on wood crafting was very new to me. Thanks to this event, I actually used a hand drill for the very first time and saw how composting was done.”

Meanwhile, Mr S Muhammad Abdul Malik from the Dean’s Office at the Faculty of Dentistry got his endorphins flowing in a workout session. “It is the first time I have taken part in this genre of workout on campus. It reminded me of ‘The Great Singapore Workout’ that used to take place!” he enthused. “It was memorable working up a sweat together with my colleagues from the Faculty of Dentistry as well as other NUS colleagues as a team.”

Committed to creating a healthier and more productive working experience for staff

In recognition of its long-term commitment towards building a happier and more productive working environment, NUS was recently awarded the Global Workplace Award (Large Employer). Launched in 2013, the Global Healthy Workplace Awards was the first programme that brings together leaders in global health and well-being, and recognises healthy workplaces around the world.

The award winners were announced at the Global Healthy Workplace Awards and Summit, held on 8 and 9 Nov 2022. The focus of the summit was on how employers are best addressing the future of work – particularly, the strategic models they have in place and how they are building internal consensus when addressing pressing problems, especially in mental well-being.

Receiving the award on behalf of the University, Dr Andrew Tay, Director of NUS’ Health and Wellbeing Unit said, “It is a privilege for us to be ranked amongst large, global organisations that include banks, pharmaceuticals and retailers with best-in-class employee care and well-being practices. This award recognises NUS’ long-term efforts to create a space that is conducive and safe for our staff to thrive and succeed. We would like to thank our faculty, staff and students who have contributed towards the ongoing journey towards well-being.”