Plans for Mental Health and Allied Professionals in Social and Health Manpower Development and Community Mental Health Masterplan

Anthea Indira Ong
3 min readJan 7, 2020


Parliamentary Question, 6 Jan 2020

Through Assoc Prof Walter Theseira, we asked the Minister for Health (a) whether there are any manpower development plans for mental health and allied professionals in the Social and Health Manpower Development Programme and Community Mental Health Masterplan and, if so, what is the progress of these plans; (b) what are the targets the Ministry has for (i) psychiatrist to population ratio (ii) clinical psychologist to population ratio and (iii) counsellor to population ratio; and © when does the Ministry expect to achieve these target ratios.

Mr Gan Kim Yong: Local training programmes are available for psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. Under MOH’s Health Manpower Development Plan (HMDP), over the past three years, an average of three overseas experts from a variety of professions visited local healthcare institutions to advise and teach aspects of mental healthcare each year. In addition, under the HMDP, an average of 13 local mental health professionals were sent to overseas centres to study and learn different models of care delivery each year. A Skills Framework (SF) was established in January 2019 to guide the developmental pathways of psychologists, including clinical psychologists. This framework for psychologists is administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). MSF had also set up a Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce (STT) to drive, coordinate and implement tripartite collaborations for manpower development initiatives, including that for psychologists.

Currently, there are about 248[1] psychiatrists and 473[2] psychologists in Singapore. This translates to 4.4 psychiatrists and 8.3[3] psychologists per 100,000 population. Within the public health sector, the number of psychiatrists and psychologist increased by 8% to 182[4] and 7% to 171 respectively in the last three years. MOH does not have specific numbers of counsellors practising in Singapore as many healthcare professionals and social workers provide counselling as part of their work. Whilst there is no international consensus on the number or ratio of mental health professionals to population, the MOH will continue to monitor the numbers to ensure appropriate access and quality.

Note(s) to Question No(s) 14:

1Source: SMC 2018 Annual Report.

2Source: Singapore Register of Psychologists, maintained by the Singapore Psychological Society.

3As registration for practice is not compulsory for psychologists, actual numbers may be higher.

4Source: SMC 2018 Annual Report.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~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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Anthea Indira Ong

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.