The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is building an online portal as an extensive archive of mental health information, as instructed by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).
The website focuses on mental and wellbeing content that are carefully selected by professionals in the field. This portal is targeted at members of society who are affected by mental disorders or family members of affected individuals. More information will be disclosed on HealthHub, a platform that holds an array of health content, rewards and e-services.
Why does it matter?
Mental illnesses are more prevalent in Singapore than most people care to admit. The issue has only worsened after the pandemic struck, substantiated by reports by The Straits Times which indicates a spike in family violence and a surge in mental health issues since the circuit breaker kicked in on 7 April last year. (Cheon, 2020). Furthermore, more than 50% of youth participants claimed that their mental health is compromised by the pandemic, specifically pointing stress over their future, finances and academic or work performance.
People are unaware of the importance of taking care of one’s mental wellness since the effects are not as apparent as physical issues, which are more visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, social stigma has prevented open discourse in our community, forcing those who are plagued with mental illness to hide their issues. Therapy and counselling is also not accessible to everyone due to its high cost.
Searching for information online is not the most effective method either. Based on engagement sessions of the Youth Mental Well-being network, the members agreed that they were skeptical about the information found on various websites.
Thus, recommended by the COVID-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce (CoMWT), the portal is designed to provide these individuals with credible information as one of the avenues to tackle the issues of mental illnesses in our society.
The larger context
Not only does the portal act as an information trove, it acts as a base to target two other key issues the CoMWT spotted: the need for an encompassing guide to align and monitor the progress of government efforts regarding mental health and to improve the alignment of mental health training resources and professionals.
Thus, MOH have decided to expand CoMWT into an interagency platform that will focus on monitoring the implementation of suggested remedies for their respective issues.
Furthermore, they will supervise the development of a national mental health and wellbeing strategy, which will be drafted and refined next year, before monitoring the progress of said strategy.
Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s second Minister for Health, said that in order to succeed, “we need to internalise the lessons learnt, not only in managing infectious diseases but also in addressing the mental health needs of the population moving forward. This is one of the key reasons why we have evolved the COVID-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce… to look at addressing the population’s mental health in the longer term, with a focus on cross-cutting issues across agency lines.”