President's Challenge 2019 to focus on mental health, says President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob and Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef removing the “stigma” to unveil the logo of the Global Alliance for Mental Health Advocates at the first Global Summit for Mental Health Advocates on Oct 4, 2018. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - The President's Challenge, an annual community outreach and fund-raising campaign, will centre on helping those with mental health issues next year, while continuing its support for a broad range of social causes, said President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (Oct 4).

The President's Challenge 2019 will be launched early next year.

"I hope that by placing more emphasis on people with mental health issues, we can raise greater awareness of their needs and we can better support them in their journey of recovery and reintegration," Madam Halimah said in her opening address at the first Global Summit for Mental Health Advocates held at The Grassroots Club in Ang Mo Kio.

She also encouraged voluntary welfare organisations supporting people with mental health conditions to apply for next year's edition of the Empowering For Life Fund, which helps enable employment for vulnerable groups.

The fund, which will provide $10 million over a period of five years, was launched in February this year and is part of the President's Challenge.

"We should leverage the fund to empower those with mental health conditions to return to the workplace, so that they can continue to contribute to society and be meaningfully engaged. I hope that companies will also respond to this call and be more open to providing equal opportunities at work for this group," said Madam Halimah.

The application form for the fund can be downloaded online at

The emphasis on mental health issues by the President comes as a boost for those supporting people with mental health issues.

One of them is Filos Community Services social worker Rebecca Seah, 50, who helps in a programme that integrates discharged Institute of Mental Health patients back into society.

"It promotes public awareness and motivates those in our sector. It also enables us to collaborate and be empowered by the President's Challenge," she said.

Ms Ellen Lee, 61, president of Silver Ribbon (Singapore), which is hosting the conference, said: "We are very happy that the President herself is using the President's Challenge - probably the most well-known community effort - to raise awareness of mental health. We feel this will help us a lot in our advocacy work and help people running the services to feel encouraged that there is a concerted effort to promote mental wellness."

She added that mental health is usually a topic marked with a stigma that people avoid talking about due to ignorance, as not much is known about people with mental health issues or their caregivers.

The two-day Global Summit for Mental Health Advocates 2018 is being attended by 278 local and overseas guests, speakers and delegates. The theme of the conference this year is Unite For Mental Health.

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