6th Oct 2020
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
MP for Bukit Batok SMC
Mr Murali Pillai,
Question No. 224
To ask the Minister for Health whether the powers under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act may be expanded to provide intervention for the benefit of mentally disordered persons under the care of relatives who do not allow these persons to receive psychiatric treatment even though these relatives do not ill-treat or neglect such persons within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Act.
1. The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act (MHCTA) allows for the state to intervene for persons with or suspected of having mental health conditions, and who may be a risk to self or pose a danger to others. The Police can apprehend the person and take him/her to a doctor for an assessment or bring the person to a psychiatric institution for treatment. The processes that are empowered under MHCTA apply, even if the person declines to seek treatment on his/her own accord, or relatives refuse to bring the person to receive psychiatric treatment.
2. Nonetheless, MOH’s approach is to intervene early and reach out to the persons who are facing mental health issues and their families to encourage them to seek help voluntarily, before there is a need to enforce mandatory psychiatric evaluation and treatment. MOH has worked with Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to develop services to support persons with mental health conditions under the Community Mental Health Masterplan. AIC acts as a “first touchpoint” for agencies, service providers and members of the public to refer persons suspected to have mental health condition(s) and not receiving the treatment they need for further support. AIC, with the support of relevant stakeholders, could refer such persons to the appropriate medical and social services.
3. To actively reach out to community to provide early identification and community support for persons with mental health needs, AIC has set up 43 community outreach teams and trained over 24,000 frontline staff from government agencies and community partners across Singapore as of end 2019. These teams have reached out to over 300,000 persons and provided assistance to more than 23,000 persons who were at risk of developing mental health conditions or dementia.
4. Nevertheless, MOH recognises that there is a need to better support persons with (or suspected with) mental health needs and displaying challenging behaviours in the community. MOH is currently reviewing the enablers for the community support required which include the current legislative levers.
5. We would like to urge the members and any public that if they come across any person with mental health needs, to contact the Institute of Mental Health (IMH)’s 24-hour mental health helpline (6389 2222) or AIC’s Care-in-Mind (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance.