Forum: Time for holistic approach to tackle mental illness

A posed photo of a person with depression.
A posed photo of a person with depression.PHOTO: ST FILE

We refer to the Opinion piece by Professor Tommy Koh (Time to put mental health high on list of national priorities, Feb 29) and the letter by Ms Ang Yi Ting (Employers must understand what employing the mentally ill entails, March 2).

We are indeed sorry to hear about Ms Ang's experience in being hired for a job only to be fired two weeks later. Her experience is not uncommon.

Many mental health agencies, including the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), will be able to help Ms Ang and others like her who want to work hard and contribute in the workplace.

SAMH Mindset Learning Hub provides integrated vocational rehabilitation service for persons in recovery from mental health concerns.

Besides providing training on work and social skills, SAMH Mindset Learning Hub also offers a range of services to help employers understand mental health conditions better and how they can provide an inclusive work environment for persons in recovery.

It is also necessary to provide ongoing support for employed persons in recovery to help them adjust to stresses at the workplace. There has to be commitment from both sides for this to work well.

Beyond employment for persons in recovery, we agree with Prof Koh's call to put mental health as a high priority nationally.

There has been much media coverage in recent months on mental illness and the stigma associated with it.

There have been numerous activities and projects over the years by government and social service agencies to raise awareness of mental illness and promote mental wellness.

Perhaps it is time for a more coordinated effort to tackle mental illness comprehensively.

This will involve looking at a whole range of issues, including treatment and rehabilitation facilities that support programmes in schools, institutions of higher learning and the workplace, employment support and public education.

It will require significant effort and resources as well as involve multiple public, private and non-profit parties, and volunteers working together in partnership.

It's a massive undertaking but certainly a good start towards making mental wellness a national priority.

Francis Yeoh (Dr)

President

Singapore Association for Mental Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2020, with the headline 'Time for holistic approach to tackle mental illness'. Print Edition | Subscribe