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Mental Health and Preventive Care in Primary Care

4th Sep 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Ng Ling Ling

MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC

Question No. 3

To ask the Minister for Health (a) how are the primary care providers, including polyclinics and private GP clinics, equipped and resourced to detect early onset of mental health issues and to provide preventive care; (b) what are the subsidies for Singaporeans in seeking such preventive care; and (c) whether there are integration platforms with social services in such care provisions.

Written Answer

Under the Community Mental Health Masterplan (CMHMP), primary care providers receive support to improve early identification and access to mental health care for persons with mental health issues. Mental health services have been set up in the polyclinics. Family physicians, nurses, psychologists and medical social workers sited at these polyclinics are trained to recognize early signs of mental distress among patients so that they can provide timely mental health assessment and intervention. In addition, over 220 general practitioners (GP) have been trained under the Mental Health General Practitioner Partnership Programme (MHGPP) to identify, diagnose and manage persons with mental health issues in the community.

Government subsidies are available at polyclinics and Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies are available at CHAS GPs for Singaporeans who seek treatment for mental health issues in the primary care setting. In Nov 2019, CHAS Green was introduced to allow all chronic patients, regardless of income, to enjoy CHAS subsidies for mental illnesses under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) (namely major depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia) at CHAS GPs clinics. Currently, patients can also withdraw up to $500 per year from their MediSave for the outpatient management of conditions under the CDMP. For patients with complex chronic conditions, this annual withdrawal limit will be raised to $700 from 1 Jan 2021. Lastly, those aged 60 and above may tap on Flexi-MediSave.

In addition to providing accessible and affordable care for persons with mental health condition(s), the Agency of Integrated Care (AIC) helps to coordinate care across the health and social sectors for persons with mental health issues. Primary care providers, community partners, ground agencies and members of the public can refer persons with/suspected to have mental health condition(s) to AIC, who will then work with relevant stakeholders to support clients with the appropriate medical and social services.

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