Increased aid to tackle dementia, mental health issues

A decal being placed on the window of a McDonald's outlet in Yishun, indicating that restaurant staff are trained to help those with dementia. Yishun is one of three estates where some residents and businesses are trained to spot and help people with
A decal being placed on the window of a McDonald's outlet in Yishun, indicating that restaurant staff are trained to help those with dementia. Yishun is one of three estates where some residents and businesses are trained to spot and help people with symptoms of the condition.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

More towns will have residents and businesses trained to recognise and help people with symptoms of dementia.

Three dementia-friendly communities were launched last year - in Hong Kah North, MacPherson and Yishun - and more will be set up.

Voluntary welfare organisations will also receive government help to establish more community-based teams - beyond the 36 set up with help from the Health Ministry since 2012 - to support people with mental health conditions and also educate the public on these issues.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry will provide mental healthcare services in polyclinics, and the National Council for Social Services will lead efforts to integrate people with mental health issues into the workplace and community.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said people "must rally around those with mental health conditions, including dementia".

 

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"Mental health issues may not be easy to talk about, but we can make good progress when the community comes together," he added.

The Government will spend $160 million more in the next five years on community mental health efforts.

Alzheimer's Disease Association chief executive Jason Foo said doing more to help people with mental health issues is vital, given the rising incidence of the disease.

The condition affects about 40,000 people in Singapore today, but this number is expected to double by 2030 as the population ages.

Said Mr Foo: "I'm glad the Government is putting more resources in community mental health efforts, because such efforts are resource-intensive. You need more staff and time to reach out to the wider community and train them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Increased aid to tackle dementia, mental health issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe