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A Step In The Right Direction – National Mental Health & Well-Being Strategy

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Community, Mental Wellness

A study conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) revealed that amongst those identified as having anxiety and depression, only 32% reported seeking healthcare to treat their conditions and only 24% consulted a mental health provider. Recognising the severity of the growing mental health crisis, Singapore has launched the National Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy as a concerted effort to improve the mental well-being of our population.

 

About the strategy

The strategy on holistic mental health care covers 4 focus areas to support and improve the mental health and well-being of the population :

(1) expanding capacity of mental health services 

(2) enhancing capabilities of service providers for early identification and intervention

(3) promoting mental health and well-being

(4) improving workplace mental health and well-being

 

Here are some notable roll outs under this strategy:

  • More general practitioners (GPs) will be equipped with the capabilities to identify those with common conditions like depression and anxiety 
  • Currently, 17 out of 24 polyclinics offer mental health services and it is slated that by 2030, all new polyclinics will offer these services
  • Beefing up training of front-line personnel and efforts to promote mental health and well-being in the community, schools and workplaces
  • National mental health helpline and text service as a first stop 
  • Over 90 community outreach teams and community intervention teams have been set up in social service agencies to support individuals in distress

 

Youths

  • Intermediate residential facility for youths aged 10 to 19 at risk of suicide or severe self-harm
  • A Parents’ Toolbox is expected to be launched in phases from early 2024 to equip parents with the skills to help their children

 

Infrastructure

  • Institute of Mental Health’s capacity will be expanded and the future Alexandra Hospital will also have inpatient beds for psychiatric care and rehabilitation, on top of paediatric psychiatric services
  • By 2030, two new psychiatric nursing homes and a psychiatric rehabilitation home will be established

 

How these would support the community

Accessibility to the help one needs – Speed and availability. No mental healthcare system in the world is perfect, everyone is overworked but we are heartened that our government recognizes this. With different services available in different locations, it not only increases accessibility to mental healthcare and reduces the strain on our care system as not everybody will go and join the same queue. With increased accessibility, one would be more encouraged to seek timely help.

 

Reduce social stigma – Overtime, mental health promotion plays an integral role in creating a society that values mental well-being, and reduces the discrimination towards individuals with mental health conditions. We are heartened to know that such measures can enable opportunistic early detection and intervention for mental health needs, and over time minimise the stigma of seeking help. 

 

What’s in it for seniors and their caregivers

Uptake in well-being and quality of life – As a pivotal part of this strategy, the government will be incorporating mental health elements in multiple of its national programmes such as Age Well SG which supports seniors to age well in their homes and their communities. Here are some activities to promote active ageing and improve our senior’s mental health.

This added emphasis on tackling social isolation would not only improve the well-being of older persons but also have trickle down effects to the caregivers, reducing their caregiving burden as the care recipient is better off. If you want to read more about prioritising mental well beings of the caregiver, do check out this piece here

Expanded support network – Another core focus of the strategy is on how to strengthen informal support networks in the community, be it with volunteers or also fellow caregivers. The SG Mental Well-Being Network was launched in July 2022 to bring government agencies, community partners, and citizens together to strengthen the mental well-being outcomes of our society.

  • Currently, there are Well-Being Circles led by volunteers who are trained to support the mental well-being of individuals in the community, raise awareness on mental health and train peer supporters. 6 Well-Being Circles have been set up to-date, bringing together about 30 partner organisations and over 500 trained peer supporters
  • HPB has a campaign ‘Supporters who listen, support better’ which launched in September 2023 to increase awareness and equip Singaporeans with adequate skill sets to provide emotional support to those around them

 

Conclusion

Across all of these strategies, policymakers and leaders must recognize, acknowledge and address the inequities that exist in access to mental healthcare. As caregivers, friends, parents, we can help co-create this mental healthcare system alongside the government. 

Ultimately, we need a whole-of-society approach to tackle mental health issues, especially for caregivers where knowing that a support system exists around them coupled with the availability of resources is extremely comforting. Along with citizens and community partners, this goes a long way in progressing as a society, eventually building a safer and more caring one. If you ever need help or need caregiving tips, do not hesitate to reach out. 

 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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