An Interview with CreatingSmiles

Image Credit: CreatingSmiles
1)  What is CreatingSmiles and what does CreatingSmiles aim to do?
It is a brand/title i created to do mental health advocacy.  CreatingSmiles aims to empower individuals in recovery to view themselves as a strength even if society sees them otherwise.  It hopes to become a platform where individuals in recovery can come together and feel like they aren't alone, to feel heard and understood, and to empower themselves to show society that they can achieve as well.  Lastly, it strives to break the stigma of mental illness held by society.  CreatingSmiles' catch phrase is
"People with mental health conditions struggle with misunderstanding and discrimination that is more damaging to one's well-being than the condition itself"
2)  Some examples of things done by CreatingSmiles for mental health?
Mostly talks and personal sharings, as well as exhibitions.  One such exhibition was "the black dog", done in collaboration with the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT).  The exhibition raised awareness on Dysthymia, a type of Depression that is chronic and often misunderstood, through a hands-on experience.  Participants looked around and analysed objects in a mock-up study room of a student to identify tell-tale signs of someone struggling with Dysthymia.  The idea was that mental illness is often invisible, and one must learn to look beyond the surface to identify the symptoms and signs.
Image Credit: CreatingSmiles
3)  Who is Nadera? Any hopes for society?
Me!  I am Nadera ๐Ÿ˜;  a person with lived experience and who is struggling with Dysthymia, and subsequently anxiety, since the age of 16.  I will be turning 25 in 2017 and still have a long way to go in my recovery journey.  My hope for society is that everyone will develop empathy for others.  It need not be for mental health issue but basically for any issue someone is going through, to have the emapthy to understand that everyone's experiences are different and unique.  To not make assumptions, but rather to respect their experience for what it is and try to see it from their shoes and not our own.

I also want to encourage others who want to do something to just do it.  It may seem small and insignificant to merely like or share or write posts on Facebook on a social matter, but the impact can be invaluable.  Since coming open on social media, I have had many peers coming to me privately for a listening ear, to share their issues and seek advice on this stigmatised topic.  As the saying goes, "To the world you me be just one person, but to one person you may be the world".  Don't dismiss the small things you can do everyday to make the world of those around you a better place.

4)  How did you come to develop CreatingSmiles?
It was created during a "mania" moment when I was in University.  I even created namecards for it.  Maybe it was a good thing, but many a times CreatingSmiles has been often misunderstood to be a social enterprise.  Guess I should be honored that it appears that way ๐Ÿ˜„.  Whilst I did have such big dreams for it, CreatingSmiles at least for this very moment is a live Facebook page.  Through it, I share information on mental health and connect with others.  It is also through the page that i have been identified and invited to give talks or media interviews.  So having a brand/title has helped me widen my outreach to allow people to easily remember and identify my work.

5)  What do you hope to accomplish through CreatingSmiles?
I want to continue using CreatingSmiles to carry out my passion for doing public education and advocacy works in mental health, particularly youth mental health and depression.  Everyone who is successful started from something small, and that is how i see my journey with CreatingSmiles.  I have come a long way, from just giving a sharing at a book launch to sharing live on CNA.  I have God, my mentor, CHAT, my peers and colleagues to thank for that.  I had envied fellow advocates whom I have come to work with who are author of books and owners of social enterprises, basically being really successful in what they started out in.  But soon I have come to accept my limitations and to continue to build on the one asset I have with me: My voice.

Note from SG Psych Stuff: You may contact Nadera at her website or Facebook page.