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1      The mental health of our nation is important, and the Government is committed to taking care of the mental well-being of Singaporeans, especially during this COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has resulted in increased stressors that impact our mental well-being, given the changes in daily routines, social isolation and economic uncertainty.

2      Hence, more support needs to be put in place to address the mental stress that the COVID-19 pandemic and Circuit Breaker measures have brought about. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) recognises this and has been tapping on mental health professionals from MSF, MOH and MOE to give inputs on the psychological aspects of COVID, and in the enhancement and development of mental health initiatives.

3      Our public healthcare institutions (PHIs) continued to provide essential mental health services during the Circuit Breaker period. Some of our community mental health partners continued to conduct urgent home visits for vulnerable clients and those at risk of self-harm, harm to others, or at-risk of deterioration. Tele-consultations were also adopted by PHIs and community service providers so that they remain connected with their clients to ensure their mental health needs are supported.

4      A specific initiative developed is the new 24-hour National CARE Hotline (NCH). The NCH, which came into operation in April 2020, is manned by volunteers comprising trained psychologists, counsellors, social workers and other professionals, and provides support to the larger community on mental health concerns such as anxiety and adjustment issues related to COVID-19.

5      For employees, MOM, along with other agencies such as MSF, AIC and NCSS, issued an Inter-Agency Advisory with practical steps to support employees’ mental well-being and provided counselling resources for employers and workers to tap on.

6      For students, school counsellors continue to support those in need through face-to-face and online sessions. Vulnerable students were actively identified for further support and invited to return to school during the CB period. MOE also provided students with Holiday Care Packs containing resources and helplines on mental well-being and Cyber Wellness.

7      For the elderly, the Silver Generation Office, reached out to some 47,000 vulnerable seniors to refer them to assistance as required, including befriending and mental health services. As we gradually ease movement restrictions, we have also paid special attention to addressing the wellbeing of seniors. The decision to allow children to visit their parents or grandparents is one example.

8      The Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST) was set up primarily to develop recommendations on how Singapore should refresh, reimagine, or reset its economic strategies, to stay economically resilient and build new sources of dynamism in the post Covid-19 world.  Hence, besides the two co-chairs, the remaining members are industry representatives.  Nonetheless, the EST has committed to consult multiple stakeholders to draw on insights beyond its membership.

9      MOH, together with the relevant partners and agencies, will continue to ensure that mental health support and services are accessible to persons in need. We will take into consideration the impact of COVID-19 on mental health as we undertake a whole-of-government review of our mental health strategy, and study ways to further strengthen our community mental health services to support new vulnerable groups that may emerge due to Covid-19.

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