Earlier counselling, intervention services among ideas to improve mental health services in S’pore

SINGAPORE – A tiered system of mental health services to meet different levels of need can help improve the availability of these services and reduce over-reliance on specialists, frontline responders and health professionals have said. social workers who participated in an engagement session.

They gave their opinion on 12 recommendations aimed at improving the quality and delivery of mental health and wellbeing services in Singapore.

The tiered system was among recommendations put forward by the Interagency Task Force on Mental Health and Wellbeing, chaired by Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary and advised by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli .

The working group is made up of members from the ministries of education, health and labour.

Dr. Janil spoke with 17 staff and frontline workers from social service agencies on Monday, July 25 in a small group engagement session to discuss draft recommendations.

Speaking to the media at the event, Dr Janil said there were some gaps in the current mental health services space, such as how emergency rooms and the Institute of Health mental illness bear a disproportionate burden in dealing with cases that could be alleviated by moving help upstream. .

He added: “If we can go upstream – providing resilience, counseling and earlier intervention services, we don’t have to force everyone to come in for crisis intervention. We can have an approach much more controlled.”

A public consultation on the proposed recommendations has been conducted by the task force since May 30, reaching more than 800 people – including young people, social service organizations, employers as well as members of the public.

Respondents welcomed the task force’s suggestion that frontline workers be better trained in mental health literacy so they can identify signs and symptoms of mental health distress in clients, and said it would give them more confidence to encourage customers to seek help.

Ms Christabelle Shalini Ilankovan, senior clinical officer at Silver Ribbon Singapore, said another recommendation to have a few first stop points of contact for mental health support would fill a gap she sees on the ground.

She said it can be confusing to refer clients to different agencies and have them come back to her saying they didn’t get any help there.

“Having this system…makes it easier for us and our customers, so we don’t have to go back and forth, and customers won’t jump from person to person, which is not really great for someone looking for mental health help,” she added.

Mr Joe Tan, Head of Integrated Case Management Services in Care Corner Seniors Services, said having a one-stop synchronized service can benefit those who are hesitant to seek help, especially people elderly.

He added: “I think sometimes going ahead to ask for help can be quite daunting, and I think providing that approach allows people to ask for help more quickly.”

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