Improving Quality of Mental Healthcare

Budget 2020, Committee of Supply Debates, Ministry of Health, 5 March 2020

How do we ensure that the quality of mental healthcare is on par with what Singapore is known for in healthcare? Implementing a Measurement Feedback System (MFS), adopted in countries such as England, is one way. In the public consultation on mental health that my team and I conducted, 26 responses indicated feedback on treatment could improve their health outcomes. Could the Ministry clarify what measures are in place to ensure that there is regular feedback given by clients to their mental healthcare professionals?

It is recommended by WHO and NHS England that treatment for mental health conditions should be supported by talking therapies including counselling. From the consultation, 29 respondents described the importance of psychological support alongside medication in treating mental health conditions. One elaborated that her husband did not fare well on medication alone, as (I quote) “no trust was established (and) he did not open up”.[1] Would the Ministry consider measures to ensure that individuals requiring mental healthcare be supported not only by psychiatrists and medications, but paired with psychotherapy and counselling?

WHO encourages engaging stakeholders in the evaluation of mental health initiatives. In a similar vein, could the Ministry share what measures have been undertaken to involve stakeholders, including people with lived experiences of mental health conditions, in evaluating initiatives launched under the Community Mental Health Masterplan?

In expanding mental healthcare into community settings, personnel including social workers and community counsellors now interact with issues of mental health, and steps should be taken to ensure they are appropriately qualified and competent. In continuity with a whole-of-Government approach, would the Ministry consider instituting a code of practice for non-medical personnel involved in mental healthcare, including psychologists, therapists and those within community settings such as social workers and community counsellors?

[1] SG Mental Health Matters Public Consultation — Respondent #194

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng