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Remarks by SPS Eric Chua at the Launch of the National Mental Health and Well-being Strategy on 5 Oct 2023

Type: Official Speeches: Eric Chua, Official Speeches (All), All

Topic(s): Social Service Professionals, Social Service Agencies & Partners, All,  


1 Good afternoon. SMS Janil shared earlier on our overall approach to mental health, and I would like to share more on the parts that interface with the social services sector. Our aim is to support better access at the community level for persons with mental health concerns, and we will do so through three main thrusts: i) better coordination and integration between health and social service providers, ii) upskilling professionals, and iii) making it easier for persons to get help through first-stop touchpoints. 

Better coordination and integration between Health and Social providers

2 Mental health support will be tiered across four tiers, ranging from community-led mental health promotion, self-help, and peer support at Tier 1, to the most intensive level of care in hospitals and specialist clinics at Tier 4. 

3 How will service providers across the tiers serve clients and step-up or step-down? The Ministries are working on a Practice Guide that will put in place common mental health triage, assessment and screening tools. There will be common referral workflows and common IT systems between healthcare and social service providers, to ensure the right-siting of clients and patients and improve the coordination of care.

4 With the Tiered Care Model and Practice Guide, both our healthcare and social service providers will have more clarity on how they can work together to support persons with mental health concerns. 

5 The model and guide will enable persons with mental health concerns to receive mental health resources or interventions depending on the severity of their needs. When their needs change, the support to them can then be adjusted accordingly – they can be stepped up to higher Tiers for higher intensity services or stepped down to lower intensity services. Therefore, the aim is to provide appropriate support and coordination of care for everyone regardless of the severity of their needs. 

Upskilling professionals 

6 We will upskill our frontline professionals to better serve persons with mental health concerns. Currently, while some social service providers have capabilities to detect and even provide basic intervention, the capabilities are not standardised. 

7 In parallel to how more GPs are being trained in mental health, we will aim to upskill 1,500 frontline social service professionals to detect and identify their clients who have mental health needs, provide them with relevant interventions, or refer them to appropriate mental health services. 

Setting up first-stop touchpoints 

8 As we enhance social-health coordination and capabilities of our social service professionals, we should also help facilitate the help-seeking process.

9 There are currently over 30 helplines, 7 text or email platforms and more than 160 in-person mental health services that a person can approach. While many of these providers are doing good work, persons with mental health concerns may feel that this is confusing, and not know how to decide which provider to approach or how to approach them. This confusion could then deter them from seeking help. 

10 Therefore, we will be establishing first-stop touchpoints to make it easier for people to get help for their mental health needs. These first-stop touchpoints will be able to provide immediate support to them and connect them to other services within the community, as needed. 

11 In the coming years, we will introduce our two first-stop touchpoints: a new national hotline and a new national text service to meet the needs of different groups in society who may have preferences for either modality. We will also continue to have existing in-person first-stop touchpoints like CREST, COMIT, clinics and counselling centres available in the community. 

Conclusion

12 I wish to stress that anyone who faces mental health challenges does not have to face them alone. Our trained professionals in the health and social service sectors can help, and our first-stop touchpoints will make it easier to seek help.