Mental wellness task force offers recommendations to tackle Covid-19's impact on fellow S'poreans
Updated: Oct 25
More than half of the young people polled by the National Youth Council in the second half of 2020 said that mental well-being was a challenge for them.
More than half of young people questioned by the National Youth Council in the second half of 2020 claimed mental health was a problem for them, with some citing fear about the future, financial stress, and concerns about academic or professional performance as reasons.
According to the Covid-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce, the replies represent some of the ways in which Covid-19 has influenced the mental health of the local people.
The task force identified problems with Singapore's mental health system and proposed three solutions: developing a national mental health and well-being strategy, creating a one-stop online portal for national mental health resources, and developing a national mental health competency training framework.
The task force noted that the pandemic had affected both young and old, citing a study by the Singapore Management University Centre for Research on Successful Ageing, which found that as the circuit breaker was activated in April 2020, older Singaporeans reported a sharp increase in feelings of isolation.
Another research, conducted by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to examine the population's psychological reaction during the pandemic, revealed that between May 2020 and June 2021, around 13% of individuals polled reported symptoms of sadness or anxiety.
In 2020, the IMH's Mental Health Helpline received 50% more calls than in 2019, with a peak in April 2020, which coincided with the commencement of the circuit breaker period. The number of calls began to decline at the end of 2020, but then increased between January and May 2021.
Covid-19 has ushered in significant changes in our life. Fear of infection, disruptions in our daily routine, and social isolation caused by safe management measures, as well as economic instability, are all stresses that have had an influence on many people's mental health.
According to the task force, a number of agencies have stepped forward to address the problem. For example, the National Care Hotline was established in April 2020 to assist those who are experiencing mental health issues as a result of Covid-19. The hotline has received over 45,000 calls by the end of May 2021.
Over 40 programs to improve mental well-being, assist people with mental health issues, and directly address stresses that might affect mental health were also implemented. Singapore First Aid Training Centre has also step up and offer a number of courses in these regards. Offering Psychological First Aid as a mean to address this very issue. The 100% online Psychological First Aid Course is the internationally recognized training for helping individuals during emergencies and provides information on providing psychosocial treatment in the immediate aftermath of an emergency.
The Psychological First Aid training is designed to provide first responders the skills they need to address both the physical and mental health needs of those who have been affected. Skills Future Credit and training subsidies are available.
In the present mental health and well-being environment, an overall plan is required to assist and coordinate these organizations and track the progress of their efforts.
While there are a plethora of mental health resources available online, locating the correct information may be difficult and stressful.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is working on a nationwide site for mental health materials that will be vetted by professionals. HealthHub will host the site, and a prototype version will be released later this year.
According to the task group, a national mental health competence framework with an uniform set of training requirements and clearly defined degrees of competency required of professionals and paraprofessionals who serve individuals with mental health issues should be created.
“(Legislative) acts can be potentially coercive,” the taskforce stated in explaining why it did not propose legislative action, such as mandated mental health days off. "The most essential thing we want to do is co-create a solution that the general public - as well as public and private sector professionals - can comprehend and desire to work on together.”
Raising mental health awareness, developing mental health literacy, and getting people to participate in mental health activities are all important, according to the report.
The new Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-Being will be in charge of putting the task force's recommendations into action. It will manage mental health initiatives beyond Covid-19, concentrating on challenges that require interdisciplinary coordination. It was established by the ministries of Health and Social and Family Development.
The government should give significant subsidies during the first years after laws are revised to enable companies and building owners cope with the additional expenses during the pandemic.
Encouraging more people to learn skills such as psychological first aid will make Singapore a more resilient society that can bounce back more quickly after a crisis. To find out more about Psychological First Aid,
"There are many fears about the future, even as we go into the endemic (period). As a result, it is even more important that we look after our mental health, and mindfulness meditation is one method to do so. If there isn't an approach or strategy that can help us regulate our thoughts and mental capacity, that's when we suffer burnout, sleeplessness, sadness, anxiety, and many other mental health issues,"
National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am - 12am)
Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg website (Mon to Fri, 10am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm)
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours) Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm) Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928/6509-0271 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon to Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)/ Tinkle Friend website (Mon to Thu, 2.30pm to 7pm and Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)
TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (Daily, 10am to 10pm)