Gilbert Goh / Writer

Professional counseling is a viable option for those who are unemployed.

FOR those feeling hopeless or depressed as they are without a job, it is time to consider professional counseling support.

They are many family service centres (FSC) out there that provides counseling support and it can be provided free if you explain your current financial situation to them. There is no shame in this and we should put away our ego here.

(Photo: Don’t let anguish get the better of you. Courtesy of

Unemployment is ranked as the sixth most stressful event of one’s life, with losing one’s spouse through death or a divorce occupying the top few spots according to a study done in University of Birmingham in 2001.

Adverse Effect Of Unemployment

Unemployment sucks out whatever optimism you have inside of you and will often reduce one to having sleepless nights as unemployment has no defined time frame. Unemployment also hits a man hard especially heads of household as it hurts the self-esteem and man’s natural tendency to provide for the family.

That is why it is important for the unemployed to protect his emotions and mind well. He needs to fill them up with positive thinking through reading motivational books, having positive self-talks, and by mixing around with positve people. Going for regular exercises also helps to lift up one’s mood as it is found that when the body moves rapidly in motion, it sends oxygen and blood pumping through his system producing feel-good endorphins.

Unemployment particularly affects one’s finances which also directly impact basic needs such as food and shelter. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs details a  man’s search for fulfillment from food and shelter to the narrower-based self worth and purpose.

For the extreme cases, some take their own life as they face constant pressures from bankers for mortgages or bank loans taken when times are good. We have read how some high-profiled executives took their own life as they lost millions in the current financial crisis. Some could not see how they can continue living on having lost so much of their hard earned money in stocks and shares.

Many also live their life chasing after materialism, attaching much value to gathering tangible stuff such as houses and cars. Much of their self-worth is lost when they lose their material goods during this crisis. Unless they find new value and meaning in living again after such losses, many will feel that they have failed in their life.

A banker friend of mine killed himself during the SARS period after one year of unemployment. I felt that suicide is most unnecessary and can be avoidable if the situation is managed properly. Again, this is easier say than done. I find that those with a higher adversity threshold tends to hold up better than those without. Frankly, this period of joblessness is a gift to build up our resilience which is so lacking among people nowadays due to long period of prosperity and comfort in our country.

Counselling For Everyone

I was fortunate to have a friend who works in the social service sector whom I met regularly during my unemployment period. Though our regular meetings could not be counted as professional counseling sessions, his unwavering support and encouragement have helped me  turn my life around.

It is also this friend who later recommended that I work part-time in his workplace. I am eternally thankful to him for helping me out of my predicament. By talking it out, it is a form of emotional release for me as it helps loosen the knots within.

I find that it is tough for guys here to seek counseling support for their problems. There is the pride issue and it is also shameful for one to open up to another person about their problem. However, having attended some counseling sessions on my own before, I find that counseling is very therapeutic and can bring instant mental relief for one who is deeply troubled.

As the counselor is a stranger to me, I  also have the freedom to share everything without feeling that he will judge me as some friends may do. Most counselors will also walk through the options with me and regular sessions of at least once fortnightly is recommended. There are occasions that I actually looked forward to seeing my counselor after a particularly bad spell.

Women have less issues seeking counseling support. Maybe they have less of an ego problem than men and will not hesitate to seek whatever help they can get from their own sister friends. Man has a big ego problem when it comes to seeking help and being vulnerable.

It is timely that more men come forward to speak about their problems openly so that others may know that they are not alone and that seeking help is not an unmanly thing to do.

Family Service Centre

Professional counseling is provided from the following family service centers located all around Singapore:

Bear in mind that as family service centers work with people that stay within their precinct do contact the staff first before going down for their services. You don’t want to make a wasted trip when you go to the wrong FSC nearest you. Some also see clients by appointment so do contact them first.

Most FSCs are also located within HDB neighbourhood area and often housed in void decks. However, the interior is nice and warm, giving one a feeling of calmness and peace. Most counseling rooms are decently renovated with cushions, paintings and sofas to provide clients with the right ambiance for sharing one’s problem. You will be surprised how fast one hour passes by when you have the right environment to offload your problem.

Most FSCs also charge a token of $20 to $50 per session but fees may be waived if the person has financial difficulty. Sessions are carried out by trained counselors and discreetly with the client’s privacy well-guarded.
Of course if you have the means, you can consult a professional counselor who charges anything from $100 – $200 per session of one hour each. You have the comfort of privacy and comfort not found yet in FSCs as they still deal with the masses.

Unfortunately, counselling has yet to take off fully here perhaps due to the stigma attached to people seeking help. It is largely due to the ego of most people here especially men who shy away from seeking help as it stabs at their manhood and the I-am-alright mentality. I hope that people in distress then here will not hesitate to seek assistance either from their friends who show care or their loved ones. We should find solace and support from the ones closest to us if possible.

Personally, a session with a counsellor can bring forth much relief and peace of mind. Often, we do not really need solutions from the counselor but just the opportunity to offload what is on our heart. The human mind is built in such a way that if we keep on accumulating issues and do not discharge them we will explode one day. So take a chance and see a counselor. It is not so frightening after all and certainly not a shameful thing to do.

Financial Counselling

Financial counseling can also be sought at Credit Counselling Centre whereby trained officers will try to assist clients who have problem repaying credit loans. They will write in to the respective financial institutions to try to find a way to resolve the crisis. Though I have not seek advice from the centre, I have heard from friends that they are effective and reliable.

Again, if the person is unwilling to seek help, the resources will go to waste. So pay them a visit and bring with you all the bank loan documents so that they can assist you readily. It is never too late to seek help.

When we break down after a prolonged period of depression the problem may turn chronic requiring medical intervention and sometimes hospitalisation. This is so unnecessary as Singapore has several hundreds of certified counsellors with many willingly doing it for free. Transitioning has a team of voluntary qualified counsellors all ready to assist you. Just email me at [email protected] for a counsellor anytime any day. We are here to help you.

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