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Associate Professor Daniel Fung, CEO, Institute of Mental Health

Mr Raveen Dev, Chief Nurse, IMH 

Distinguished guests, Nurses

Ladies and gentlemen

1. A very good morning to everyone. It is going to be tough matching the energy in this room and all the emotions here, but I am going to try to, as I do have some very important people and programmes that I want to acknowledge. I am honoured to join you at the annual IMH Nurses’ Day celebration today. This year marks a significant milestone for IMH as you celebrate 95 years of providing psychiatric care and supporting the mental health needs of Singapore. 

2. The first iconic nursing figure, Florence Nightingale is remembered for delivering unprecedented care to wounded soldiers during wartime, sparking the birth of nursing as a profession. Since then, the profession has grown, especially in Singapore, and we are looking for more icons. You have continued to rise to challenges and overcome obstacles in every era. The labour of love and care nurses devote to patients every day cannot be understated.

3. Today, nurses are the bedrock of the healthcare system. Echoing the theme of this year’s IMH Nurses’ Day celebrations “Icons of Nursing”, you exemplify virtues of compassion, dignity, integrity, kindness, and due regard.


4. The nursing practice in IMH has evolved tremendously over the last nine decades. In the past, nurses mainly ensured patients had access to basic necessities such as medication, food, and a hygienic environment. Today, nurses also play a key role in helping to chart the treatment and recovery plans for patients. Psychoeducation is crucial for mental health recovery. Our nurses champion this role to help patients and their caregivers better understand and manage their conditions, and prepare for a purposeful life upon discharge. Beyond the wards and in the community, IMH nurses continue to check in on newly discharged patients through house visits and provide rehabilitation support.

5. Nurses in IMH have also ventured beyond their traditional roles to lead care initiatives. One example is Advanced Practice Nurse Wendy Tan Yen Li, who is among the first batch of Advanced Practice Nurses trained in delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis (CBTp). Nurses like Wendy have expanded their competencies and now conduct therapy for patients with psychosis. In the past, traditionally psychotherapy is provided by psychologists. 

6. For Wendy, journeying with her patients and witnessing their progress are immensely satisfying. One of her patients used to be admitted frequently for self-harm behaviour due to psychosis. After several months of CBTp sessions, his condition has stabilised, and he could better manage his illness after gaining insight into his condition, and applying the coping skills he learnt from Wendy. Today, he is better able to navigate the challenges in his recovery journey and find purpose in life again.

7. Another IMH nursing-led initiative is the Slow Stream Rehabilitation programme where nurses guide patients to cultivate their physical, cognitive, and communicative skills through hands-on activities. This augments treatment care to help patients improve their overall functioning. For Senior Enrolled Nurse Mai Nilar Tin Win, it means identifying her patients’ potential and creating opportunities to enable them to unleash it. She works with them on a Ward Work Rehabilitation Programme, where she equips them to produce art and handicraft items, such as beaded paintings, tissue box holders, doorknob covers, and even complex crafts such as resin coasters. This gives her patients the chance to engage in productive work, exercise their creativity, and earn an allowance for their craft. In doing so, she not only helps them gain vocational skills and improved motor and social skills, but more importantly, self-identity and purpose. 

8. These psychological interventions empower patients to reclaim what they could have lost to the illness and protect their mental health. I believe this is what gives nursing work its immense meaning. This shift, where nurses take on bigger roles and acquire skills beyond the nursing domain to provide and direct care, is part of their professional growth. Wendy and Mai are excellent role models who embodied the spirit of continual learning and upskilling to advance nursing practice. With continual learning and training, nurses can grow their competencies and push the boundary of nursing practice. In doing so, they make a larger difference in patients’ journeys.

9. This is also where mentorship and preceptorship play a key role. I would like to mention Senior Nurse Manager Samsuri Buang who will be receiving the Nightingale Award today for his exemplary work in mentoring peers and younger nurses. A veteran with 23 years of experience, he believes strongly in a person-oriented approach when caring for patients. He often puts himself in his patients’ shoes so that he can empathise with them and get them to open up, paving the way for a nurse-patient relationship built on trust, which motivates patients to take charge of their recovery. Even as he progressed in his career and moved from direct patient care to nursing management, he continued to promote this patient-focused culture to his peers and mentees. Nursing practice has evolved tremendously especially with the advent of technology, but nurses should not lose the human touch. This is fundamental to nursing, and this is what Samsuri inspires his colleagues to uphold. 


10. Beyond mentorship and personal capability building, it is also crucial that the nursing fraternity grow by learning and sharing with each other, not just within, but across disciplines. I am heartened to know that IMH will be holding the inaugural Mental Health Nursing Conference on 29 September to promote sharing of knowledge and expertise in psychiatric nursing. This is open to all healthcare practitioners in Singapore. 

11. Even before this, IMH nurses have been involved in different ways to share insights among themselves, with service providers and helping professionals outside IMH. One example is Nurse Clinician Steve Pyae Phyo Min. As a member of the IMH Suicide Prevention Workgroup, he champions suicide prevention by conducting clinics for his colleagues, as well as community partners such as counsellors from Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) and other Social Service Agencies. In these clinic sessions, he leads discussions and shares about techniques on engaging persons who display suicidal signs and developing safety plans with them. He employs a variety of approaches, such as asking questions to set participants thinking, case studies discussion and role play.


12. As we transform the healthcare system as part of Healthier SG, a lot of efforts are in place, and nurses will continue to play a key role in leading care and cultivating collaborative communities to enhance delivery of care. While caring for others, it is important that you take care of your own mental well-being. I am glad that initiatives by the IMH Nursing Welfare Council provide an avenue for nurses to achieve this. I hear that there are hobby sharing platforms as well as interest groups in sports and baking that have been formed on the ground by nurses for nurses. Such activities promote nurses’ physical and mental wellness and help them strike a good work-life harmony too.

13. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all nurses who will be receiving the IMH’s Nurses’ Day Awards today, as well as the four nurses who recently received the Ministry of Health’s Nurses’ Merit Award: Nurse Clinician Francis Mary Maserello, Nurse Clinician Steve Pyae Phyo Min, Senior Enrolled Nurse Mai Nilar Tin Win, and Assistant Nurse Clinician Wendy Tan Yen Li.

14. In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our IMH nurses for your courage to care selflessly for patients. I know it has been a challenging journey. We hear that and are working on various efforts to help alleviate some of these stresses. You would have heard some of these announcements made by Minister in recent times. I hope this encourages you to stay your course, but more than anything, hold on to that passion, the very reason why you started this in the first place. It is really a privilege to see you today and celebrate today’s event.  I wish you all a very Happy Nurses’ Day. Thank you. 

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