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HomesingaporeMental health services to be included in Healthier SG initiative: Ong Ye...

Mental health services to be included in Healthier SG initiative: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE: Mental health services will be included in Singapore’s national preventive care programme Healthier SG in the coming two years, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (Oct 4).

“We will be developing mental health protocols, and incorporating mental health prevention and support as part of the General Practitioners’ (GPs) scope of practice under Healthier SG, just as we have done for many other chronic diseases,” he said in a speech at the Singapore Mental Health Conference.

At present, more than 400 GPs are trained to manage mental health cases and work with community initiatives and hospitals to meet patients’ mental health needs.

This group will be progressively expanded in the coming few years, said Mr Ong.

“Through Healthier SG, we should aim to help individuals build their mental resilience, cope with stress and seek help early when needed,” he added.

The minister said an Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being – set up in 2021 – has developed a national strategy to “tackle the issue coherently and holistically, from both preventive and curative perspectives, and through the community, schools and workplaces”.

Its recommendations are now being finalised and will be released publicly on Thursday. 

Mr Ong shared that in his previous role as Education Minister, he noticed that more students were raising mental health issues with him.

“While the younger generation did not encounter wars and racial riots, they are going through a different kind of stress and anxiety,” he said.

“They worry about climate change … They are trying to make sense of the rapidly changing world, fast pace of life, and intense competition in school and at work. 

“The young generation are also struggling with social media, which redefines how social interactions are being carried out,” Mr Ong added.

He concluded his speech noting that clinicians at his ministry were acutely aware of the need to take care of the physical, mental and emotional health of individuals simultaneously.

“All these aspects of health are interdependent – you lose one, you lose it all,” said Mr Ong, emphasising mental health as a significant issue.

“Our response cannot be over-medicalised. We need to recognise that this is fundamentally a socioeconomic challenge, albeit with significant health consequences.”

Related:

Study finds 1 in 10 teens suffers from mental health disorder; professionals call for more support from parents

Prevalence of poor mental health increasing in Singapore; young adults have highest proportion at 25.3%
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