NOTICE PAPER NO. 413
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 MAY 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Wan Rizal
MP for Jalan Besar GRC
Question No. 1044
To ask the Minister for Health whether there are plans to include mental health support for new and expectant mothers as part of their periodic pregnancy health check-ups.
1 A mother’s mental well-being during and after pregnancy has an impact on her pregnancy health and her child’s development. Most new and expectant mothers are managed by the obstetricians during their pregnancy, who play a major role in identifying mental health concerns such as antenatal and postnatal depression symptoms, both in the private and public sectors.
2 In this regard, our public healthcare institutions run mental health support services for pregnant mothers as part of routine obstetrics care. Since 2007, the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and National University Hospital (NUH) have been providing screening and early intervention for perinatal mental health conditions. Under the NUH Women’s Emotional Health Service (WEHS), women are screened for depression and severe anxiety during pregnancy. The NUH WEHS and KKH’s Postnatal Depression Intervention Programme (PNDIP) also provide depression and/or severe anxiety screening at 2-8 weeks postpartum, during outpatient postnatal reviews at the specialist clinics. As at December 2020, more than 165,000 women have benefitted from the WEHS and PNDIP programmes. In addition, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has a psychiatry clinic located within the obstetric-gynaecology specialist outpatient clinic, and obstetricians who pick up women with antenatal and postnatal depression symptoms can refer them to the psychiatry clinic.
3 Women who are screened positive for depression will be managed by a multidisciplinary team comprising a psychiatrist, case manager, occupational therapist and psychologist. The women and their family members will also be given useful contacts and information on managing their emotional health. In addition, mothers who face challenges with finances, family support and caretaking will be referred to the Medical Social Workers, occupational therapists and/or nurses for the relevant assistance. The outcomes in this support system have been positive.
4 We had earlier announced this year, the plan to develop a Child and Maternal Health and Well-being Strategy. Under this effort, MOH will review how we could better support the mental well-being of new and expectant mothers arising from the latest research and pilots aimed at improving the health outcomes for both the mother and child.