We chat with VINTI MITTAL of SACAC Counselling who moved here 18 years ago and is now a Singapore citizen. She lives here with her husband and twin boys (age 16) and has a 25-year-old son in the US. Mental health wasn’t something that was discussed much when they first arrived. She talks us through her life and her journey to SACAC.
Where are you from originally?
I’m a third culture kid – I spent my early years living in different cities across Indonesia, and then moved to India for higher education. I had an excellent childhood in both countries and often miss those carefree times and the simplicity of life, and my family who showered me with warmth growing up.
With my husband’s banking job we moved every few years, spending time in different cities in India, Dubai and Indonesia, before moving to Singapore. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel across continents and appreciate the diversity that each opportunity brought.
Tell us a bit about your working life in Singapore.
In 2008, I went back to school to get my second Master’s degree in Counselling; by usual standards, it was pretty late in life. The day I graduated, I was hired by my supervisor/mentor to work at a VWO (voluntary welfare organisation). I worked there for three years, but the inflexibility was challenging with the increasing demands of the family and it led me to explore new opportunities.
I decided the only option was to start a private practice. But it was a big step, so I joined one of the leading multi-specialty clinics, Body with Soul. Soon after, I launched another practice to meet increasing client needs. In 2015, I was invited to join the SACAC Counselling team – and in 2016, I bought the practice from the SACAC Board. It was a legacy that came with a lot of responsibilities and expectations – 2023 will be its 50th year in operation!
During my time as clinical lead there, I have initiated a couple of passion projects including a platform that connects all international school counsellors in Singapore called SISCN, and a clinical supervision group for school counsellors. I’m also proud of helping redefine the standards of mental health services for our clients – for example, ensuring they get support within 24 to 48 hours from the time they reach out.
Any particular surprises or challenges you’ve found living and working in Singapore?
When I started work in this area, the opportunities were minuscule as an expat. Mental health wasn’t something that one spoke about. In 2016, SACAC was a service provided by expats for expats. Now, it’s something that is openly accepted and utilised by everyone who wishes for support. Challenges are around integrating within the local psychology scene. I would like to be able to use my expertise to support the larger population in Singapore and the region, do more mentorship, and initiate new projects to support women in leadership positions.
I’m grateful to call Singapore my home, it gave me a chance to prove myself – and support many clients and upcoming therapists
What are you looking forward to most for 2023?
I would hope to focus on my well being after working continuously for the last two years. Alongside hoping to do more mentorship and initiating new projects to support Women in Leadership positions.
Some quick questions on a few of your favourite Singapore things:
Casual restaurant? Sabai Thai
Date-night restaurant? Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar
Local food? Mee goreng
Nature space? The many parks across Singapore
Places to go with visitors? Jurong Bird Park, Gardens by the Bay
Nearby holiday destination? India
This article first appeared in the November 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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