Viaano has been a regular volunteer for the Eurasian Association for the past decade, assisting the under-privileged and low-income Eurasians in Singapore, spreading awareness about the Eurasian culture and identity through cultural events across schools under the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Singapore, as well as engaging with Eurasian youths by being one of the founding members of the Youth Committee.
Excerpt from Viaano’s interview with Eurasian Association
25-year-old Viaano Spruyt, one of the pioneer members of the EA Youth Committee and EA volunteer, seeks to debunk this and other myths about mental health. He is the founder of Huddlehumans – a global, community-based mental health start-up launched back in 2017.
Viaano’s surname Spruyt is of Dutch origin, and his mother’s side is Peranakan Chinese. His paternal great grandfather was a sailor dispatched to Singapore from the Netherlands (Rotterdam), taking his son (Viaano’s grandfather) with him. While his great-grandfather sadly passed on in Singapore, his grandfather stayed on and later became the official Registrar of Marriage of Singapore.
Did you give up a full-time profession to start Huddlehumans and why?
I started pursuing my ambitions to become a clinical psychologist in Australia, but decided to return home to Singapore. This was because I was one of the lucky few to have found my passion at a young age: To drive social change on a global scale, with the vision of a world where it is normal for one to have their own mental health experiences. You could say that my current full-time profession is an entrepreneur. Two main reasons spurred me to establish Huddlehumans: Firstly, I personally experienced the trauma of trying to seek mental health support for my anxiety episodes as a teenager. When I finally mustered the courage to seek support, I was rejected by the doctor as my story was not deemed valid enough, and my parents weren’t there. I can only imagine how devastating the experiences are for other youths struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions who are trying to access mental health support in Singapore. I did not want anyone else to go through a similar experience. Secondly, while growing up in Singapore, I had always noticed the stigma surrounding mental health. I remember hearing the stories of Woodbridge Hospital (now Institute of Mental Health) being the “home for all the crazies” and “mentally challenged” people. I was warned by others to stay away as the “deafening screams of the ‘mental’ patients would also cause me to be mentally unsound”. People also told me that all mentally ill people belonged to either a world of crime, moral failings, poor upbringing, or all the above. This inspired me to change the mindset to one where people are supportive of one another’s mental health instead of looking down on them.
How does Huddlehumans operate and is it anonymous?
Huddlehumans is currently free-to-use and operates through two community platforms; Discord and Telegram, to provide a safe, affirming, and nonjudgemental portal for those with mental health experiences to share their experiences round-the-clock and receive relevant support and resources from other users. Huddlehumans is currently raising funding with interested investors aligned with our core values in creating a revolutionary mental health app. Anyone with an interest in mental health is welcome to join our communities fully anonymously, with just nicknames or aliases. We consider that mentally distressed people do not like to be identified or pigeonholed, and we are here to address their issues and support them in mental health struggles.
How do you see Huddlehumans making a difference in society?
From day one, Huddlehumans has always been mental health focused as we incorporate a unique sociocultural, familial, and holistic approach towards mental health care. Our vision has always been to reach a world where mental health experiences are not looked down on but normalised as a part of life’s journey. We strive to uphold our mission by providing a safe, affirming, and non-judgemental platform for people to share their mental health experiences; breaking stigma surrounding mental health and raising awareness on the importance of taking care of our mental wellness.
What is your vision for Huddlehumans in the next decade?
My vision is for Huddlehumans to be the largest, yet most meaningful mental health community in the world where people with mental health experiences can easily find support, connect with others, and build strong social support systems in their lives without feeling the fear of being judged. I am confident Huddlehumans will play a leading role in enacting much-needed social change on a global scale by restructuring the perception of mental health within the next decade.
Rest of the interview can be found in the link below (Page 12):
Eurasian Association Interview with Viaano Spruyt
Photographer: EDWIN TAY
Copyright: KLICKSHOTS PHOTOGRAPHY