IMH scary? Visit a community wellness clinic instead

Mr Steven Tan (not his real name) took on a new job a year ago, after leaving the company where he had worked for more than two decades.

It was a similar operational role but he had to deal with a new environment, culture and colleagues.

"I had a phobia communicating in Mandarin. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself," said Mr Tan. "I gradually developed depression, but I didn't realise it at that time."

The 63-year-old's work anxieties affected his sleep and appetite. He also suffered from constipation.

He said: "I'd wake up every hour or two at night. I couldn't think straight and everything seemed to go wrong. I was like a zombie."

Three months ago, he went to see a doctor, who diagnosed him with depression. Mr Tan said: "I thought it was just insomnia, due to my age. I didn't believe him."

The doctor advised him to talk to a psychiatrist.

Mr Tan went to Bukit Merah Polyclinic and the doctor there referred him to the community wellness clinic at Queenstown Polyclinic.

At first, the doctor had suggested the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), but Mr Tan refused to go there.

"IMH is an alarming name," he said, referring to its reputation as a place for people with all sorts of mental illnesses. "I told them my case was not that serious."

At the community wellness clinic, Mr Tan was treated by a psychiatrist who was "caring and frank with what she thought about my condition".

He learnt from her that he was feeling the way he did because he was depressed.

He said: "The medicine she gave was spot on and worked on the first night. I had a good sleep for seven to eight hours."

Mr Tan will soon be attending a follow-up session at the same community wellness clinic. He said he was grateful that care was easily available at a polyclinic.

"It takes a lot of courage to go and see a psychiatrist," he added.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'IMH scary? Visit a community wellness clinic instead'. Print Edition | Subscribe