I started Huddlehumans Mental Health Support Community not long after my internship at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) Singapore back in 2017.
The crippling anxiety and fear that filled me during the first two weeks of my internship are feelings I can still vividly remember even today. How I wish I was the only one who felt that way but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Just like many others, I was conditioned to feeling this way. During my upbringing as a child, I remember hearing the many stories of Woodbridge Hospital; of it being the “home for all the crazies” and the “mentally challenged” people of the country. I remember being strictly warned by others to stay away from the hospital as the “deafening screams of the ‘mental’ patients would also cause me to be mentally unsound”. I remember people telling me that all mentally ill people belonged to either a world of crime, moral failings, poor upbringing, or all of the above.
But what I had once believed could not be further from the truth.
I remember interacting with the numerous mentally diagnosed patients for months on end at the same exact hospital that I was indoctrinated with stories about whilst growing up. I remember how my interactions with them were some of the loveliest and most genuine interactions I have ever had in my life. I remember seeing how smart, talented, and beautiful these precious souls were. I remember watching as they composed their own sweet-sounding music, choreographed their own dance routines and how they painted the most serene of artworks. These are the experiences and memories I now vividly remember.
What is ‘normal’ to you?
Mental health is and has always been a taboo subject for as long as I can remember. I remember how lost and absolutely clueless I was as I tried to find mental health support for my anxiety experiences when I was a teen. Not knowing what to do or where to even start, I finally plucked the courage to see a GP but was eventually denied a referral just because I was seeking consultation “alone” and that my reasons weren’t “good enough”. Going through that experience first-hand, I can only imagine how devastating the experiences are for other youths struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental health conditions who are trying to access mental health support.
The stigma attached to mental health was so overwhelming, but perhaps maybe that’s just the case for a so-called “conservative Asian country” such as Singapore.
Or so I thought.
Prior to living in Australia for almost 3 years to pursue my undergraduate studies, I had honestly believed and had hoped that the mental health sphere would be starkly different. Perhaps with a different culture, different beliefs, different systems, different way of life… perhaps a different mental health situation as well?
It was the same exact thing.
And that’s when I learnt: Mental health does not discriminate.
That being said, I honestly do believe that we all have our own sufferings when it comes to mental health to a certain extent and that the affliction we experience is different for everyone.
So how do you determine what’s ‘normal’?
That single internship at IMH in 2017 changed my life completely. I started Huddlehumans because I was one of the lucky few fortunate to have found my passion at a young age. Huddlehumans is an extension of myself and was forged from a raw passion: To drive social change on a global scale. A raw passion longing for a world where it is normal for one to have their own mental health experiences. The raw passion to keep fighting the stigma and misrepresentations surrounding mental health and not giving up until those visions have been fulfilled.
I still remember spending all my spare time over my weekends off during my military conscription of 2 years on Huddlehumans. I remember failing in my first website and mental health forum with Huddlehumans back in 2018 because I was unable to commit enough time with all the other commitments that I had.
Saying that, I have never once thought of that as a setback because to me, you never truly fail, you only learn from your experiences.
Today is the official launch of the Huddlehumans website www.huddlehumans.com.
Today is the day that I come out publicly as Viaano, the founder of Huddlehumans, and not Michael which has been my pseudonym for the past 4 years to an online community of almost 10,000 people.
Today is the day that my team and I make the statement that we are going to change the mental health sphere; that we are going to make a stand to break down the barriers for the disadvantaged wanting to access mental health support.
Huddlehumans will revolutionise mental health on a global scale in an approach unique only to us.
As we continue to grow, I just want everyone out there reading this to know that you are never alone in your struggles. If you ever need someone to listen to your story, you will always have a family waiting for you at Huddlehumans.
Viaano “Michael” Spruyt
Founder of Huddlehumans