Past Issues

Mental Health Care in Singapore: Current and Future Challenges

Ee Heok Kua, Mahendran Rathi

Objectives: Singapore is a city‑state of about 5.7 million in population, having multi‑ethnicities–Chinese (74.3%), Malays (13.4%), Indians (9.1%), and others (3.2%). In this review, the authors intended to familiarize the readers with the present state of mental health care in Singapore and to discuss the present and future challenges in service provision in handling psychiatric care and promoting mental health for all Singaporeans. Methods: Through published papers and personal experiences, the authors collected descriptive data on mental health‑care service research, psychotherapy, training, stigma, and preventive psychiatry from the published papers and books. Information on recent and future developments was from interviews with clinicians and administrators. Results: There is a steady expansion of mental health‑care service, training, and research in Singapore. Community and preventive psychiatry is currently emphasized. There are about 115 practicing psychiatrists in Singapore, giving a psychiatrist‑to‑population ratio of about 2.6/100,000, which is low compared with other developed countries such as the USA (13.7/100,000), the UK (11/100,000), and Australia (14/100,000). Conclusion: The authors suggest that the focus of mental health care should be on the community and on the Agency for Integrated Care to coordinate the plethora of services by hospitals, clinics, day centers, and nongovernmental organizations. We further stress the need of anchoring the service to a mental or general hospital community care or day hospital beside inpatient care in general hospital or institutions. We also recommend gathering community support, proper use of technology in early detection, referral management, and exploiting the benefits of artificial intelligence for mental health promotion in the future.
Key Word Carers for the elderly, mental health service research, preventive psychiatry, stigma
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