NOTICE PAPER NO. 801
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 2 NOVEMBER 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Wan Rizal
MP for Jalan Besar GRC
Question No. 1297
To ask the Minister for Health whether there are efforts to encourage and normalise mental health screening for all Singaporeans through key touchpoints like schools and institutes of higher learning, workplaces, hospitals, general practitioner clinics, paediatrics clinics, and gynaecological clinics.
The Government adopts a risk-based approach for health assessments for at-risk individuals. This enables resources to be better directed towards the early identification and intervention for persons with health needs. This approach also applies to Mental Health.
To this end, we have increased community touchpoints to enable the early identification and targeted assessment of persons at risk of mental health needs and link them to relevant services for further intervention. As at end 2020, 50 community outreach teams have been set up and they have reached out to over 350,000 persons, and then provided assistance to more than 26,000 persons who were at risk of developing mental health conditions and/or dementia. In addition, over 220 General Practitioner (GP) partners are trained to identify, diagnose and treat persons with mental health conditions in the community.
Hospitals and specialist clinics screen high-risk patients for mental health conditions during their inpatient stay or clinic appointments to deliver early intervention, where indicated. For example, the National University Hospital (NUH) Women’s Emotional Health Service (WEHS) and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Postnatal Depression Intervention Programme (PNDIP) have been screening and providing early intervention for perinatal mental health conditions. KKH also conducts psychosocial assessments at its paediatric outpatient clinics and provides mental health screening for adolescents at the inpatient wards and the Children’s Emergency department.
In the workplace setting, HPB conducts training for managers, human resource (HR) personnel, and employees interested to be peer supporters, on recognising the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions. As of September 2021, about 5,800 personnel have participated in the training.
Schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have systems of support in place to detect early signs of distress in students. Schools have trained teachers and staff to identify signs of distress in their students, monitor their well-being, and provide guidance and support. In-house counsellors also provide additional support to students who need it. For students who require further assessment and intervention, counsellors will refer students to mental health professionals in the community and hospitals. Students are also taught how to recognise common mental health issues and symptoms through mental health lessons in the enhanced Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum in schools, and mental wellness programmes in IHLs. Through established peer support structures, students help look out for one another and encourage peers in distress to seek help.