Mental Health Support for the Differently-Abled

Anthea Indira Ong
3 min readJan 7, 2020


Parliamentary question, 6 Jan 2020

Through Ms Yip Pin Xiu, we asked the Minister for Health what are the measures to ensure that differently-abled individuals such as individuals who are deaf, mute or autistic receive quality mental health care and support that meet their unique needs.

Mr Gan Kim Yong: Persons with different abilities are handled by various groups of healthcare professionals in the public healthcare system. Efforts have been made to facilitate early detection and referral for management of mental health conditions for all individuals in Singapore, including for persons with special needs, who may have higher rates of co-occurring mental health conditions than the general population. For example, general practitioners are trained to diagnose and manage stable mental health conditions while psychiatrists and psychologists manage conditions that require more specialized management. Community outreach teams also reach out to individuals who are at risk of, and diagnosed with, mental health conditions, to provide support for these individuals in the community.

More specific help is available to individuals with different sensory needs. For example, students with hearing impairments are assisted by school psychologists in their respective special schools to support their mental health needs.

Children with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can access services by the Child Development Programme (CDP), where a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals provide a holistic approach of assessment, diagnosis, and interim therapy, including attending to behavioural and mental health needs. The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) has also set up a Child Guidance Clinic (CGC) to provide professional services for children aged six to 18 years with developmental delay and/or intellectual disability with co-morbid mental health conditions. Adults with intellectual disability and/or ASD can also be referred to the Adult Neurodevelopmental Service (ANDS) at IMH, which carries out assessment and treatment of behavioural issues or co-existing mental health conditions in these individuals.

MOH will continue to work with our healthcare providers and partners to ensure that every individual has access to quality mental health care, including for those who are differently-abled, and to ensure that the care and support is tailored to the unique needs of this group.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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).

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