Prof Choo Chiau Beng, Patron of Brahm Centre
Mrs Tan-Huang Shuo Mei, Chairperson of Brahm Centre
Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, CEO of Agency for Integrated Care
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon. I am pleased to join you in celebrating the official opening of Brahm Centre’s new campus at Newton.
Importance of Mental Health and Well-being
2. Mental health is an integral component of overall health and well-being. Awareness of its importance has grown over the past two years due to the additional stressors brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local studies have described the significant impact of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of different segments of the Singapore population.
i) For instance, an in-depth study by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Singaporeans’ mental well-being during the pandemic found that about 13% of the respondents reported experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety in the period from May 2020 to June 2021.
ii) Among the seniors, the Singapore Life Panel study conducted by the Singapore Management University Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA) reported a stark increase in feelings of isolation among older Singaporeans as the Circuit Breaker began in April 2020, with larger increases observed for those living alone.
iii) Lastly, among the youths, regular polls conducted by the National Youth Council (NYC) between April and December 2020 on youths’ challenges and sentiments during COVID-19 found mental well-being to be a challenge for over half the youth population (52%) surveyed.
3. Even as we gradually resume normal activities, many of us may continue to feel anxious or worried. In this regard, a supportive community is crucial in normalising conversations on mental health and encouraging those with mental health needs to reach out for help.
Brahm Centre and Community Mental Health Efforts
4. Brahm Centre is an important partner in providing mental health support services. Since its inception in 2012, it has offered programmes, such as mindfulness talks and mental health resources, to support the needs of the community. Brahm Centre has also been a community partner with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) since 2016 to provide educational and support services for individuals with mental health needs and their caregivers.
5. Over the years, Brahm Centre has expanded from one centre with just three staff, to four centres with a team of over 52 staff. It has also expanded its initial focus in promoting happier and healthier living to seniors to include adults and youths as well. With its new campus in Newton, Brahm Centre will offer specialised mental health services to both adults and youths.
6. Locally, the prevalence of mental health conditions is the highest amongst youth aged 18 to 34 years, with about 1 in 5 experiencing a mental health condition in their lifetime. I am heartened that social service agencies such as Brahm Centre have stepped up to offer services to support our youths in their life journey, especially during this critical period.
- For instance, Brahm Centre works with schools to deliver talks and workshops for students on mental health and mindfulness to manage stress and build resilience. It also runs a helpline and counselling service to provide youths with basic emotional support, which has benefited more than 600 youths to date.
- Brahm Centre also offers the Mindful Academic Coaching programme, a free peer-led one-to-one academic coaching service for secondary school students, where students or recent graduates of tertiary institutions serve as coaches to guide the secondary school students in their academic, social-emotional and communication skills.
- Late last year, Brahm Centre launched the Lighthouse Program, a mindfulness-based mental health literacy programme targeted at students, parents and teachers to gain a deeper understanding of how our minds work to achieve effective learning and emotional regulation. Since January 2022, this programme has reached out to about 1,900 students, 350 teachers and 50 parents.
7. I thank Brahm Centre for their many years of hard work and dedication, and look forward to learning about the new initiatives offered in the Newton campus in time to come.
Upcoming Public Consultation on Mental Health
8. In recognition of the importance of mental health and the need for coordinated action across sectors, the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being was set up last year to oversee and coordinate cross-cutting national mental health issues. The Taskforce has been reviewing the population’s mental health needs and has identified four focus areas. These include the need to strengthen services and family support for parents and youths; improve access to mental health care by integrating health and social services; provide employment support for persons with mental health conditions; and improve mental health literacy to create a more inclusive society.
9. As part of its review, the Taskforce recognises the importance of hearing the thoughts of our key stakeholders and the general public. The Taskforce plans to hold a public consultation in the coming months to seek the views of mental health stakeholders and members of the public on the preliminary recommendations. We look forward to engaging our stakeholders and fellow citizens to co-create solutions to improve the mental health ecosystem in Singapore.
10. In closing, I would like to congratulate Brahm Centre on the launch of the new centre, and express my appreciation for your extraordinary contribution to promoting happier and healthier living. Let us continue to work together to foster greater mental well-being and resilience in our society.