Mental health workshops and talks for South East district residents and volunteers

SINGAPORE - Residents in the south-east will get more help to deal with mental health issues in their neighbourhood from this month.

The South East Community Development Council (CDC) is rolling out 45 workshops over the next three years to help residents and grassroots volunteers identify common mental problems and how to manage them.

These range from teaching befriending techniques to equipping volunteers with skills to cope with challenging behaviour.

The council is also organising a series of talks to raise awareness of these problems and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The initiative is a joint effort between the council, the Agency for Integrated Care, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), and other community organisations.

Announcing the plans at the annual district meeting on Thursday evening, South East District Mayor Maliki Osman said that the goal is to help those with mental problems re-integrate into society.

"It is important that individuals with mental health issues should be encouraged to recover and lead normal lives in the community," Dr Maliki said.

The new programme builds upon a pilot scheme in MacPherson which started in 2013. During the trial, organisers and grassroots volunteers discussed the needs of residents with mental health problems and linked them up with appropriate services.

Organisers hope that the expanded project will reach 5,000 grassroots volunteers and residents in the south-east. This includes those living in areas such as Marine Parade, East Coast, and Joo Chiat.

Dr Maliki added: "By understanding the issues faced by these individuals, we can reduce potential friction within the community and provide for a stronger and mutually supportive society."