New gym for mental health patients launched at Buangkok

SINGAPORE - The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) launched its first patient gym on Friday, to help adult patients build self-confidence and address behavioral problems as they prepare to reintegrate into the community.

The MINDSET Rehabilitation Gym, which will benefit some 200 patients a month, occupies 210sqm of the Buangkok Green Medical Park.

The facility features regular equipment such as treadmills and bicycles. This helps familiarise outpatients with the equipment they will find in regular gyms. There is also a large floor space for group sessions like zumba and step aerobics to be conducted.

Almost half of the patients at IMH's rehabilitation centre are overweight. "For a lot of them, after they lose weight, they feel more self-confident," explained Dr Tan Bhing Leet, 37, who has been overseeing the facility since it opened in June.

Next to the exercise gym sits the Sensory Integration Gym, furnished with gym balls, swings and a small rock wall for therapy use. It is the first to offer sensory-based intervention for adult patients suffering from mental illness combined with an intellectual disability.

For example, some patients might be fearful of movement. The swing helps them overcome this fear as well as develop good balance and awareness of their bodies.

The Sensory Integration Gym will help meet a service gap in mental healthcare, said occupational therapist Ashley Jayapaul.

"Special schools last time used to have children up to the age of 14 or 12, and after that clients never had services. So if they had severe sensory issues they were usually kept in their homes. They were not engaged, so in the process they developed a lot of psychiatric conditions," he explained. That is why the new gym targets adult patients.

The entire facility cost $208,000 and was set up with funds from the Jardine Matheson Group.