Brahm Centre's MacPherson branch expands amid rising demand for support services

The centre has seen twice as many counselling clients last year as compared to 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Residents will now get more support for mental health concerns by visiting Brahm Centre's MacPherson branch as the centre expands its capacity in response to higher demand.

A registered charity, Brahm Centre has four branches in MacPherson, Newton, Simei and Tampines, and provides emotional and social support to its clients.

The centre, which normally serves more than 500 clients a year, has seen twice as many counselling clients last year as compared with 2020, and recorded a 44 per cent increase in the number of counselling hours.

Brahm Centre's chief executive Angie Chew said: "MacPherson has a high number of seniors living alone, either single or estranged from families. We do our part to offer care and support, and a centre that they can come find joy and happiness."

Brahm Centre's AssistLine service, where those in distress can seek immediate support through phone, WhatsApp or e-mail, has also seen a doubling in the number of call sessions from 2020 to last year.

Responding to these trends, Brahm Centre @ MacPherson launched two new counselling rooms on Wednesday (Feb 16) which will provide socio-emotional support, advance care planning, legal advisory and dementia screening to its beneficiaries.

Advance care planning is the process of planning for future health and personal care in case a person is incapable of doing so in the future.

It includes discussing one's personal beliefs and goals for care with their loved ones and healthcare providers.

The centre's MacPherson branch welcomes more than 100 people each week.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP for MacPherson, who was guest of honour at the launch on Wednesday, noted the need for government agencies, the social sector and the public to work together to help the community.

"MacPherson is a higher-needs community with many seniors and their need for support has accentuated, particularly during the circuit breaker. We know that seniors, if they are isolated, their mental acuity and physical health can deteriorate. If we do not do enough to engage them, there could be sad consequences.

"Now increasingly, seniors are reaching out for more information on services such as advanced care planning or how to make a lasting power of attorney so this is a very good time to expand on the services at the centre," she added.

The expansion of the MacPherson branch comes on the heels of Brahm Centre's 10th anniversary celebrations.

Since its inception in 2012, the social service agency has engaged 65,000 individuals, offering weekly health education forums, befriending and support services to patients and caregivers, dementia screening as well as mindfulness programmes to the public.

Ms Lily Gan, senior counsellor and mindfulness trainer at Brahm Centre, said the expansion will help staff provide services to more beneficiaries in need, including isolated seniors and young adults grappling with stress.

Ms Gan said: "As many people worked from home, there were more cases of young employees, some who had joined a company during the pandemic and never seen their colleagues, coming to us for support. Seniors who need help would sometimes arrange sessions over Zoom, although it is difficult to engage them online.

"As we slowly come back to face-to-face interaction amid the pandemic, I can better serve beneficiaries here," she added.

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