Skip to content

Detention and treatment under Mental Health (Care and Treatment) act

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Leon Perera
MP for Aljunied GRC

Question No. 633

To ask the Minister for Health (a) in the past five years, how many persons have been detained and treated under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act for (i) over 72 hours (ii) over one month and (iii) more than six months; (b) how many of such persons have been successfully rehabilitated; (c) whether police officers receive training on mental illness, particularly in identifying mental illness and interacting with a person with mental illness; (d) if so, what has been the effectiveness of such training; and (e) whether there are plans to review this Act in light of Singapore’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Written Answer

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act (MHCTA) provides for the State to detain persons with or suspected of having mental health conditions, and who may be a risk to self or pose a danger to others, in a designated psychiatric institution for psychiatric assessment and treatment. Depending on the person’s mental state, the person could be detained initially for up to 72 hours. Subsequently, and upon further review, the person may be detained for a further period, up to a maximum of 12 months, if assessed to be necessary. However, detention of patients is only exercised under the very strict circumstance that a patient with mental health conditions is at risk of harm to self or others. For the past 5 years from 2016 to 2020, the number of persons who have been detained and treated under the Act for more than 72 hours and up to one month averaged 1,460 a year. An annual average of 128 and 14 were detained between 1-6 months and more than 6 months respectively.

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) treats all patients based on their mental health needs and does not specifically track the rehabilitation outcome of patients who have been detained in the hospital under the MHCTA.

Frontline police officers are trained to adapt to different scenarios, and intervene decisively to protect life and property. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) continually adjusts its training to ensure that they remain relevant, and effectively equip officers to carry out their duties in a dynamic operating environment.

As part of the Community Mental Health Masterplan, Police had worked with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) to increase officers’ awareness of mental health conditions and help them to identify and respond to persons observed with potential indications of mental health issues.

Apart from training, officers are also guided by a set of internal Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) when dealing with persons with possible mental health issues. The SOPs provide a general guide for officers in recognising possible signs of mental health issues, as well as recommendations on how to interact with such persons.

MOH currently has no plans to amend the MHCTA in light of Singapore’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as the legislation is already in compliance with the requirements of Article 14 of the CRPD.

Persons detained under MHCTA are treated with respect and accorded the same standard of care as other patients. Patients and family members can give feedback to IMH should they have any concern with regard to its IMH services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *