NOTICE PAPER NO. 860
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 JANUARY 2022
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Miss Cheng Li Hui
MP for Tampines GRC
Question No. 2166
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what are the current average waiting times to seek a first appointment and follow-up appointment with a mental healthcare professional at any Government healthcare facility; and (b) whether the current alternative forms of support have been effective in helping patients faced with long waiting times to stay on track of their treatment.
At the public hospitals, the median waiting time for a new subsidised appointment to see a psychiatrist was 34 days in 2020. The reported median waiting time for a new subsidised appointment with a psychologist was 32 days in 2020. Public hospitals employ a triage system to ensure that patients are seen in a timely manner based on the urgency of their condition. The interval for follow-up reviews varies from patient to patient and is based on the healthcare professional’s assessment of the patient and their needs.
Patients with mental health conditions can also receive care from primary care doctors, who are able to manage conditions such as depression and anxiety in the community. In the polyclinics, patients with mental health conditions will be cared for by a multi-disciplinary team comprising doctors, nurses, and psychologists.
In addition to in-person consultations at hospitals, IMH offers teleconsultations to stable patients for outpatient reviews to facilitate easy access to care. There are also community-based care and support services such as the community outreach teams and community intervention teams which persons with mental health challenges can tap on. These teams have reached out to over 383,000 persons to provide mental health information and support, and 63% of clients who had completed care by the intervention teams have reported improvement in their quality of life.
Beyond the scheduled mental health appointments at healthcare facilities, persons in need of mental health care support including crisis care can access various mental health and counselling helplines operated by social services agencies, support groups, and hospitals Some of these include the National CARE Hotline, Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) 24-hour crisis hotline, IMH’s Mental Health Helpline etc. There are also online resources available to support and empower individuals in mental health and self-care. For example, on mindline.sg, individuals can understand their state of emotional well-being via a self-assessment tool and access mental health resources and self-help tools on the website.