August 2016 | Issue 25
Meet Soon Hong - Humanity in Healthcare Award winner

Name: Lee Soon Hong
Age: 23
Cohort: Class of 2018
Hobbies: Taking an evening stroll and cooking


I’m a… medical student from the Class of 2018, trying my best to absorb the knowledge of the world through medicine. I volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Saturday afternoons, where I organise recreational and rehabilitative activities for long-stay psychiatric patients.

When I am volunteering at IMH, I usually… try to learn more about the residents personally, as it makes the interactions more fulfilling and meaningful. I also get to meet new volunteers at the institute.

My role as a volunteer is… to do my best to make the residents happy and enjoy themselves. At the same time, because my ward is helping to rehabilitate the residents, we get feedback from the nurses and residents to come up with more activities that could help them on their road to recovery.

Interacting with mental illness patients… opened my eyes to the complexities of the real world. Many of them face complex social issues. Sometimes, their families are unable to support them, which can lead to circumstances that further aggravate their illness in the long run.

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Soon Hong (right) and his classmate talk to a patient on the ward

My passion for volunteering started… in Junior College, when I volunteered at Simei Care Centre, a centre for psychiatric rehabilitation. However, when I entered the army, I wasn’t able to volunteer anymore as the centre only operates on weekdays. Through a friend, I was introduced to the volunteering opportunities at IMH, which allowed me to continue with my passion.

The challenges of volunteering are… mostly time management. I travel long distances between the School and IMH, time that could be used for studying or resting. Regardless, I enjoy my time volunteering at IMH, and it has been very fulfilling.

When I become a doctor, I would like to… continue helping out in the field of mental health, even if I don’t become a psychiatrist. While I am interested in helping mental health patients, being a psychiatrist requires a certain level of emotional strength, which not everyone has. I am keeping an open mind with respect to my choice of specialty.

When I received the Healthcare Humanity Award for volunteering, I felt… very honoured and humbled. Truthfully, this was only possible through the time and effort everyone in the volunteer group puts in for this common cause and I would like to dedicate the award to the entire group of volunteers.

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Soon Hong (dressed as Santa Claus) and the group of IMH volunteers mark the end of another year