Disaster mental health scheme led by S'pore has trained more than 800 people in the region

Benedict Cheong, chief executive officer (CEO) of Temasek Foundation, which organised the programme together with the Institute of Mental Health.
Benedict Cheong, chief executive officer (CEO) of Temasek Foundation, which organised the programme together with the Institute of Mental Health.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES FILE

SINGAPORE - More than 800 people in the region have been trained to help their communities cope with mental health issues following disasters, in a massive three-year project spearheaded by Singapore.

Launched in 2012, the Disaster Mental Health Programme for Communities in Asia equips government leaders and volunteers with skills to deal with mental problems that arise following large-scale disasters.

These may include depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

The $2.38-million programme was organised by philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation, together with the Institute of Mental Health. The foundation is an offshoot of investment firm Temasek Holdings.

"There are many agencies and organisations already geared up for (immediate) response after a disaster," said foundation chief executive Benedict Cheong.

"We decided to find an area to which we could contribute, support, and create awareness."

Under the project, local experts worked with their counterparts from Indonesia, Thailand and China to tailor the programme to each country's needs.

The programme culminates in a three-day forum, which will take place from July 27 to 29 in Bangkok.

During the forum, countries will take turns sharing their experiences in providing mental health services after a disaster.