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Support for new and expectant mothers

Dr Wan Rizal
MP for Jalan Besar GRC

Question No. 1178

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether, under the Ministry’s new Child and Maternal Health and Well-being Strategy, mental health screening and support for new and expectant mothers can be made a mandatory part of pregnancy health check-ups in the public and private sectors; and (b) whether support can also be extended to fathers, especially for mothers experiencing post-partum depression.

Written Answer

Currently, there is support for the mental health of expectant mothers and their spouses. Obstetricians in both the public and private sectors already provide mental health screening and support for expectant mothers. This helps to identify the mental health concerns such as antenatal and postnatal depression symptoms. 

Since 2007, the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and National University Hospital (NUH) have been screening and providing early intervention for perinatal mental health conditions. Under the postnatal intervention programmes, the hospitals provide depression and severe anxiety screening at 2-8 weeks postpartum, during outpatient postnatal reviews at the specialist clinics. The programmes also accept referrals from the private sector. As at December 2020, more than 165,000 women have benefitted from the programmes. 

In addition, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has a psychiatry clinic located within the obstetric-gynaecology specialist outpatient clinic, which will support women with antenatal and postnatal depression symptoms. Women with depression will be managed by a multidisciplinary team comprising a psychiatrist, case manager, occupational therapist and psychologist. The women and their family members will be given useful contacts and information on managing their emotional health. 

Hospitals may also assess the spouses for signs of distress, tiredness, difficulty in coping with the pregnancy, or paternal postnatal depression. Where appropriate, the affected spouse is offered a referral to the polyclinic or mental health professionals. Within the community, initiatives such as KidSTART, led by the Early Childhood Development Agency, actively screens for paternal depression during home visits and directs appropriate individuals to polyclinics for further assessment.  

We will continue to review the need for further mental health screening at existing service touchpoints in both public and private healthcare sectors, to support new and expectant parents. In that regard, MOH is formulating a Child and Maternal Health and Well-being Strategy, which will include ways to better support the mental well-being of new and expectant mothers and their spouses. 

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