More can be done to improve care of mentally ill patients

Patients with severe dementia at a day-care centre. Closer collaboration between the health and social sectors needs to be forged, to support mentally ill patients and their families, Minister for State for Health Dr Amy Khor said on Friday. --
Patients with severe dementia at a day-care centre. Closer collaboration between the health and social sectors needs to be forged, to support mentally ill patients and their families, Minister for State for Health Dr Amy Khor said on Friday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Closer collaboration between the health and social sectors needs to be forged, to support mentally ill patients and their families, Minister for State for Health Dr Amy Khor said on Friday.

She pointed out that patients affected by mental illness may need more than just healthcare attention but also financial support as they may not be able to hold onto a job. Carers may also be at a loss as to how to cope, for example, if their family member has dementia. Dr Khor was speaking at a mental health conference on Friday at the Singapore Expo.

As such, social support plays an important role in the care of patients with mental health conditions, she said. As a start, the Institute of Mental Health has rolled out mobile teams in four neighbourhoods to help support this integration, under a recent initiative called the Community Resource and Support Engagement Teams.

Another area that needs tackling is that of stigma, added Dr Khor, as this fear of being ostracised is a reason why many do not seek professional help. Dr Khor said: "We hope that establishing more community-based services will facilitate greater acceptance of treatment and lower the stigma for mental illness. Coupled with early detection and intervention, our goal should be to continue supporting mental health patients to go on to live meaningful and productive lives."