Move to meet mental health needs timely, says Halimah

President Halimah Yacob welcomed the Government's move to convene the Covid-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce.
President Halimah Yacob welcomed the Government's move to convene the Covid-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce.PHOTO: ST FILE

President Halimah Yacob welcomed the Government's move to convene the Covid-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce, calling the national response timely and absolutely necessary.

This comes as the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted people's lives, with many losing their jobs or having to take pay cuts, she added.

"Those who are not yet affected worry all the time when tragedy will strike them. They may even see little future for themselves and their families," Madam Halimah said in a Facebook post yesterday.

Mental health issues go beyond the "terrible pressure and pain inflicted on families" and can carry an economic cost too, in the form of higher medical costs and higher workforce absenteeism rates, she added.

The task force was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, when he spoke at a World Health Organisation virtual event to mark World Mental Health Day.

The task force was convened by the Ministry of Health and the Institute of Mental Health and it will review the psycho-social impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the population.

It will also take stock of the initiatives introduced across the Government to address the impact so far and identify gaps that will need to be addressed to better meet the mental health needs of the population during this time.

Yesterday, President Halimah stressed that the younger generation face different challenges when it comes to their mental health.

"They are constantly bombarded by made-up, feel-good stories on the Internet, which in comparison make their lives look so mundane and miserable," she said.

However, she added that building mental resilience is a lifelong affair and young people must be taught how to deal with failures and bounce back after setbacks.

Support at home, in schools, at the workplace and in the community is crucial for recovery to take place.

The President urged Singaporeans to be kind and courteous to one another. "We are all in the same boat. Whether Singapore comes out of this stronger or weaker depends a lot on all of us," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2020, with the headline 'Move to meet mental health needs timely, says Halimah'. Print Edition | Subscribe