Replies: Mental health

Those with autism can seek help from several places

We thank Forum writers Eric Chen Yixiong (Tailor mental health support to those with autism, Oct 13) and Wesley Loh (Support mental health of the autistic so they too can contribute to society, Oct 19) for sharing their views.

Individuals can seek mental health support through various channels.

They can approach social service agencies that provide mental health support and counselling services, such as Silver Ribbon, Singapore Association for Mental Health and Touch Community Services.

They can also receive mental health support through helplines or online platforms (such as Belle, the Beyond the Label helpbot, or mindline.sg) and get connected with mental health services and resources.

The Ministry of Health, together with the Agency for Integrated Care, has also set up mental health services at polyclinics, and trained general practitioner partners in mental health care.

There are also specialised services available for autistic individuals who are diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Dedicated teams at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) - the Neurobehavioural Clinic at the Child Guidance Clinic and the Adult Neurodevelopmental Service - provide clinical care and support to children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability, or other neurodevelopmental disorders, who have mental health conditions.

KK Women's and Children's Hospital's Child and Adolescent Mental Wellness Service and the National University Hospital's Department of Psychological Medicine serve children with ASD who have mental health conditions.

Disability sector professionals will be equipped to better support clients facing mental health issues.

The Social Service Institute trains social service agency professionals in mental health awareness. In addition, some disability services, such as the adult disability homes, partner the IMH for training and consultation services to better support their residents with mental health conditions.

More can be done to raise awareness of the mental health needs of autistic persons. The Government has set up an inter-agency task force on mental health and well-being to oversee mental health and well-being efforts at the national level.

The Enabling Masterplan 2030 Steering Committee will hold a series of public consultations with persons with disabilities, caregivers, disability organisations and other stakeholders to co-create the next Enabling Masterplan. We welcome Mr Chen, Mr Loh and members of the autism community to participate in these sessions and co-create solutions to address issues faced by persons with disabilities.

Lim Yi Jia

Director, Disability Office

Ministry of Social and Family Development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2021, with the headline 'Those with autism can seek help from several places'. Subscribe