Mental health is an integral and essential component of our health. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” according to the World Health Organisation.
Mental health is about how we think, feel and act as we cope with our lives. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life.
According to the Singaporean Mental Health Study 2016, 1 in 7 people in Singapore has experienced a mood, anxiety, or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime. The study also revealed that obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in Singapore. However, the findings also showed that the majority – or about three-quarters – of people who have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime did not seek professional help.
Here’s what the government, an insurance company, and an independent film festival aims to achieve as they make changes centering around the negative notions of mental illnesses and in doing so, offer them support.
In his Budget 2019 Statement, the Minister of Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat announced that CHAS subsidies at GP clinics will be enhanced in 3 ways:
All Singaporeans will be covered by CHAS for chronic conditions, regardless of income.
CHAS orange cardholders will now be extended subsidies to cover for common illnesses. Currently, orange cardholders are only covered for chronic conditions.
Subsidies for complex chronic conditions will be increased.
CHAS covers management of chronic Mental Health conditions like Anxiety, Bipolar Disorders, Major Depression and Schizophrenia. This now extends to all Singaporeans, regardless of income.
This year’s President’s Challenge, which focuses on mental health, will be raising funds for 67 organisations spanning a wide range of service sectors. One of which is the Transitional Employment and Work Integration Programme (TEWIP). This programme aims to equip people with mental illnesses with on-the-job training opportunities within different work settings like social enterprises, so that they can be ready to return to the workforce.
TEWIP is one of the eleven programmes funded under the Empowering for Life Fund (ELF) in 2019. The programmes will aid those at a disadvantage including people with disabilities, underprivileged women and children with special needs. President Halimah said that the ELF will increase the funding period for projects for up to three years from 2019, instead of the initial one year. She expressed her hopes that the stability of funding over a longer period will encourage volunteer welfare organisations to being more experimental and open in supporting the vulnerable among us.
Singapore Mental Health Film Festival
The Festival will include 8 workshops, 8 Panel discussion and feature 11 films in total: seven international films, such as Still Alice starring American actress Julianne Moore, and four short films – two of which are Singaporean-made.
Watch the Trailer to Still Alice below!
Each film focuses on different mental health issues or illnesses, like Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
There will be 45-minute panel discussions after each screening where members of the audience can discuss the films with persons recovering from mental health issues, caregivers or mental health professionals.
The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival, which will run from Feb 21 to 24 at The Projector at Beach Road. Visit their website to find out more.
AIA Insurance Plan – Beyond Critical Care
Insurance group AIA has launched an insurance policy – Beyond Critical Care – that offers coverage for both physical and mental illnesses; the first of its kind in Singapore. AIA’s monumental move is aimed at tackling the negative stigma surrounding these conditions. The AIA Beyond Critical Care policy will cover five conditions – major depressive disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette Syndrome. The mental health aspect of the policy will provide coverage up to age 75, except for Tourette Syndrome, which will be up to age 21.
A Listening Ear is only One Call Away
If you know of someone, or are in need of help yourself, do know that there are many opportunities for you to seek help. We have curated some resources where you can seek help and relevant self-care.
Mental Health Helpline Manned by trained counsellors from the Institute of Mental Health for those requiring advice on mental health issues.