A 2018 study on mental health in Singapore discovered that one in seven Singaporeans undergo a mental disorder. Over three-quarters of those who have a recognized mental condition do not reach out for this kind of support.
The state of mental health in Singapore is indicative of an overarching lack of awareness when it comes to such matters. So it was refreshing to see Singapore's President Halimah Yacob spark a conversation to try and change that.
Yacob delivered an address during a visit to Job Club, a part of the Institute of Mental Health, which aims to reinstate individuals with mental health issues into the workforce.
She stated that there is a lack of awareness when it comes to people with mental health issues in the workplace. Instead, there is “misunderstanding, misinformation [and] ignorance about the conditions of people… in their ability to work peacefully.”
The President emphasized the need to provide people with “better jobs.” She acknowledged that there are well-qualified Singaporeans who are thrown into “back-end and front-line” jobs, mostly in the service industry. Better jobs, she said, would be a step towards improving the state of mental health nationwide.
According to the Straits Times, Yacob stated that the process is in the hands of employers specifically, and they need to “step up.” She added that it is “absolutely critical” to have increased support at a community level – perhaps something which is currently lacking across the island.
Most of those who experience mental health issues in Singapore are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the latest study. The “treatment gap”, as it is called in scientific literature, of those not receiving professional help, is extremely high. This is reflective of the reluctance to accept the prevalence of such conditions.
The study also found that there was a statistically significant increase in generalized anxiety, alcohol abuse, and most mental disorders between the years of 2010 and 2016.