GPs well supported in providing mental healthcare

We thank Miss Lee Kay Yan for her letter ("How to ensure GPs' mental health patients comply with treatment?"; June 27) and agree with her that general practitioners (GPs) in the community can help support existing and new patients with mental healthcare needs in the community.

The Mental Health-GP Partnership, which was started by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), is currently a national initiative under the Community Mental Health Masterplan.

It aims to provide persons with mental health needs easier access to care as well as to co-manage their chronic medical conditions, if any. It allows them to receive care at clinics closer to their home and at their convenience, which in turn encourages greater compliance with follow-up treatment.

Together, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the public hospitals engage and equip GPs with the relevant skills and resources to manage patients with mental health needs. GPs can also attend a one-year graduate diploma in mental health offered by the IMH and National University of Singapore or enhance their knowledge and skills through collaboration with the hospitals.

These GPs are also supported by community mental health partners who provide counselling, and psychosocial and family support. They form a care network that offers care and support holistically, which also covers the facilitation of follow-up appointments.

The care networks also provide support to the patients' own family and friends, which are also vital in the recovery journey, through providing emotional support, and encouragement to seek and adhere to early treatment.

The 24-hour mental health helpline (6389-2222) manned by trained counsellors is open to the public, should they require advice or assistance on mental health-related issues. The public can also write to careinmind@aic.sg to seek advice on or support for their loved ones' recovery.

Andy Seet

Director, Corporate and Marketing Communications

Agency for Integrated Care

Goh Yen Li (Dr)

Programme Director, Mental Health-GP Partnership Programme

Institute of Mental Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'GPs well supported in providing mental healthcare'. Print Edition | Subscribe