Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Raeesah Khan
MP for Sengkang GRC
Question No. 498
To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether there has been an increase in postpartum complications, infant health, and mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic due to factors such as the limited availability of family support and hired caretakers; and (b) if so, what are the steps that have been taken by the Ministry to address this issue.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has not observed any increase in postpartum complications and infant health issues at the public hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mothers who cite issues with family support and caretaking are referred to the Medical Social Workers who will assist in equipping the new parents with parentcraft skills prior to discharge and arranging for post-discharge support.
The Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline saw a 48 percent increase in number of calls from April to December 2020 as compared to the same period last year. However, while this increase seemed to be largely caused by COVID-19-related anxieties and pressures, we cannot attribute the increase specifically to family support and caretaking issues.
Since April last year, MOH has been working with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the community partners to support the mental wellbeing of families and individuals during COVID-19. During the circuit breaker, AIC’s community teams supported their clients through phone outreach. For high-risk clients who require urgent assistance, the community intervention teams will conduct home visits, while taking precautionary measures.
In addition, the National CARE Hotline was launched in April 2020 to support those facing mental health concerns such as anxiety and adjustment issues related to COVID-19. As of end December 2020, the hotline has handled almost 38,000 calls. The monthly number of calls has decreased by about 80 percent since its launch.
MOH and IMH have set up the COVID-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce in October 2020 to address the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the population. The Taskforce had taken stock of the mental health and well-being initiatives introduced across agencies to address the impact thus far, and will be working to address the identified gaps to better meet the mental health needs of the population during this time.