Singapore to include mental health services into Healthier SG programme

Health minister Ong Ye Kung also reveals plans to expand the training of general practitioners to effectively handle mental health cases

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung shares plan to integrate mental health services into Healthier SG within the next two years
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung shares plan to integrate mental health services into Healthier SG within the next two years. (PHOTO: Getty Images) (Getty Images)

SINGAPORE— Singapore's Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has confirmed that mental health services will be included in the national preventive care programme, Healthier SG, within the next two years.

During a speech at the Singapore Mental Health Conference on Wednesday (4 October), Minister Ong stated, "We will be developing mental health protocols, and incorporating mental health prevention and support as part of the general practitioners' (GPs) scope of practice under Healthier SG, just as we have done for many other chronic diseases.

"Through Healthier SG, we should aim to help individuals build their mental resilience, cope with stress, and seek help early when needed."

Building a stronger mental health support system

Ong revealed that more than 400 GPs are trained to manage mental health cases and collaborate with community intervention teams and hospitals to meet patients' mental health needs, with plans for expansion in the coming years.

He also mentioned the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being, established in 2021, which has developed a national strategy to address mental health issues from both preventive and curative perspectives as well as through the community, schools, and workplaces.

The recommendations from this taskforce will be disclosed on Thursday.

Challenges faced by the younger generation

Ong drew attention to the increasing number of students raising mental health concerns, particularly during his previous role as education minister.

He acknowledged that the younger generation faces unique challenges, such as climate change worries, adapting to a rapidly changing world, intense academic and workplace competition, and the impact of social media on social interactions.

He concluded his speech by highlighting the interconnectedness of physical, mental and emotional health, stating, "All these aspects of health are interdependent – you lose one, you lose it all. In this phase of globalisation, digital connectivity, climate change and FOMO (fear of missing out), mental health has emerged as a significant health issue.

"Our response cannot be over-medicalised. We need to recognise that this is fundamentally a socio-economic challenge, albeit with significant health consequences."

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