Task force to meet mental health needs of Singaporeans timely and necessary: President Halimah

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

SINGAPORE - 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 pandemic 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 on Sunday (Oct 11).

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 pandemic 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.

Its members include representatives from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Health Promotion Board, Agency for Integrated Care, People's Association and the National Council of Social Service.

In her Facebook post on Sunday, Madam Halimah stressed that the younger generation is growing up in a different environment and 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 to bounce back after setbacks.

  • Helplines

  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

    National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

    Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222

    Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714

    Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788

    Agency for Integrated Care Hotline: 1800-650-6060

    SOS Care Text service available through Facebook Messenger on the SOS official Facebook page

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

She urged Singaporeans to be kind and courteous in their interactions with 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.

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