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Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Saktiandi Supaat, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC

Question No. 1381

To ask the Minister for Health (a) how many elderly persons have benefitted from CareLine since its roll-out and what is being done to raise awareness and encourage its usage; (b) whether more resources will be given to befriender services and suicide prevention groups; (c) whether the Silver Generation Office can increase the number of house visits to seniors living alone; and (d) what is the protocol when the senior declines assistance.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Joan Pereira, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC

Question No. 1392

To ask the Minister for Health with elderly suicides on the rise, whether the Ministry can provide resources to religious organisations to help address this issue.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Leon Perera, MP for Aljunied GRC

Question No. 1411

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the take-up rate for the Community Health Assessment Team’s (CHAT) services since the pandemic began; (b) whether the CHAT experience can be applied to mental health care for the wider community; (c) what is the number of referrals generated by the community mental health outreach teams set up by the Agency for Integrated Care together with community service partners in 2020; and (d) what is the strategy to ensure that older Singaporeans are accessing the mental health care 

Written Answer

The Ministry of Health adopts a multi-pronged approach, comprising upstream prevention, supportive care as well as crisis intervention for those at-risk of mental health difficulties.  Under this approach, there are several channels of help:

The Institute of Mental Health’s (IMH’s) Mental Health Helpline, available to the public 24 hours daily, provides counseling for those suffering from psychological and psychiatric problems. 

Within the community, Family Service Centres (FSCs) provide case management and counselling support to low-income and vulnerable individuals and families, to help them deal with financial and other difficulties. 

In addition, there are dedicated programmes for the young and old. IMH’s Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) conducts outreach and mental health assessments for young people between 16 and 30 years old. In 2020, CHAT has performed more than 760 mental health assessments and close to 200 webCHAT sessions. 

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) has been working with community partners to provide persons at risk of mental health conditions or dementia, with related information and link them to community resources. As of end 2020, we have set up 50 community outreach teams, and reached out to more than 54,000 people in the community. AIC also supports and conducts e-training courses and provides relevant materials for community partners, including faith-based organisations. 

Various initiatives are also in place to pre-empt social isolation, which is often associated with higher rates of depression, and higher suicide risks. For example, befrienders based in Eldercare Centres (ECs) make regular home visits and check-in calls to seniors needing support. 

The Silver Generation Office (SGO) complements this, by conducting targeted and frequent outreach to frail seniors and seniors who are living alone. If seniors decline assistance, SGOs will continue to build trust with the senior’s caregivers or community partners and establish at least one emergency contact whom the senior can approach in times of need.

CareLine, a 24/7 social support hotline, provides tele-befriending as well as emergency response services to seniors in distress. As of May 2021, CareLine has supported around 10,000 vulnerable seniors, and has been collaborating with SGO and the ECs. Seniors may also contact other support hotlines such as The Seniors Helpline operated by Sage Counselling Centre, and Samaritans of Singapore Hotline, which provide counselling and suicide prevention resources. 

MOH will continue to work closely with our partners to develop community resources and build their capabilities to better support the mental health and well-being of the population. 

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