SINGAPORE — A public consultation aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of Singaporeans has raised concerns about poor access to mental health support, a lack of coordination between agencies and the need to remove the stigma some parents feel at home. for their children seeking care, among other issues.
The preoccupations were reported to an inter-agency working group who on Monday July 25 provided an update to the media on ongoing consultation sessions following an engagement session with staff and frontline practitioners at Care Corner Singapore, a non-profit organization for social services.
At the event, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said the task force had engaged more than 800 members of the public since May 30 this year, when the consultation began, with approximately 400 people representing various stakeholders participating in small group engagement. sessions. The public consultation will continue until August 7.
Created in August last year, the task force oversees national efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
So far, the working group has highlighted three priority areas for feedback:
- Improve accessibility, coordination and quality of mental health services
- Strengthening Youth Mental Wellness Services and Supports
- Improving workplace wellness measures and employment support
The task force made some preliminary recommendations, including the need to design first-stop points of contact, such as a one-stop hotline or one-stop digital resource where individuals can easily access and be referred, depending of their needs.
Other recommendations include providing training to frontline staff members to better identify clients’ mental health needs and implementing standardized assessment and referral frameworks.
Dr Puthucheary told reporters at the event on Monday that the task force is considering early intervention to help those in need via a tiered approach that focuses on general services and resilience within the community. and prevents the deterioration of mental health.
He said emergency services, for example, face a disproportionate burden in dealing with health emergencies and crises.
“So if we can go upstream and build resilience through counseling and earlier interventions, we don’t have to force everyone to come in for crisis intervention, you have a much more controlled approach. “, did he declare.
Dr Puthucheary added that many interventions such as mental health counselling, certain types of screening and counseling do not need to be delivered by a clinical professional alone.
He said professionals such as social workers, GPs and school counselors provide the option for the client or patient to receive these services in the community with a shorter wait time, “maybe for someone one with whom he already has a therapeutic relationship.”