Mr Christopher de Souza
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Question No. 72
To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether there are sufficient future-ready counsellors and psychologists to help cope with the potential increase in mental illness; and (b) what is being done to promote these occupations.
1 As of September 2020, there are 504 psychologists registered with the Singapore Psychological Society. This translates to 8.9 psychologists per 100k population. Within the public healthcare sector, the number of psychologists increased by 7% in the last three years from 2017 to 2019. Although MOH does not have the specific numbers of counsellors practising in Singapore as many healthcare professionals and social workers provide counselling as part of their work, there were 940 registered counsellors with the Singapore Association for Counselling in April 2020.
2 The care of persons with mental health conditions would benefit from management by a multidisciplinary team (which includes psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists etc). MOH will continue to work with public hospitals and community service providers, including schools, social service agencies and family service centres, to ensure timely access and support for persons with mental healthcare needs.
3 At the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), each patient’s psychiatric condition and psycho-social needs are assessed holistically by the attending doctor, whereupon medications, psychotherapy and counselling support by psychologists or counsellors might be prescribed. In the community, individuals with mental health needs could tap on community mental health supports such as mental health services in polyclinics where psychologists play a key role in mental health assessments and psycho-social therapeutic interventions. In addition, allied health-led community intervention teams provide an array of allied health services such as counselling and psycho-education for individuals with mental health conditions.
4 To raise awareness of the psychology profession, we have profiled their work through the Care to Go Beyond branding campaign. Sponsorships are available through the Healthcare Graduate Studies Award for eligible fresh graduates or mid-career professionals to pursue their interest in Clinical Psychology, with 11 awards offered in the last five years from 2016 to 2020.
5 The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) also offers a range of training and development support for psychologists in the social service sector. These include scholarships, awards, and training grants to support their training, and facilitate the entry of registered psychologists into the sector. NCSS also manages the Sun Ray scheme, a leadership scheme aimed at attracting, developing and retaining leaders, including psychologists, in the social service sector. Between FY2015 and FY2019, there are 20 psychologists on the Sun Ray scheme, and 26 scholarships and awards were given out to psychologists. Other efforts, such as the Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce formed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, have been instrumental in driving, coordinating and implementing tripartite collaborations for manpower and professional development initiatives, including that for psychologists.
 Source: Singapore Register of Psychologists, maintained by the Singapore Psychological Society. As registration for practice is not compulsory for psychologists, actual numbers may be higher.
 Source: Singapore Association for Counselling Annual Report 2019.