One in 16 in S’pore has suffered from depression

Depression

SINGAPORE: One in 16 people in Singapore suffered from Major Depressive Disorder in their lifetime, making it the most common mental illness here.

This is followed by alcohol abuse and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), according to a Singapore Mental Health study conducted in 2010.

One in 29 people suffered from alcohol abuse in their lifetime, while one in 33 suffered from OCD.

The study, led by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), also found that Indians, females and those who were widowed or divorced, showed higher risks of depression.

The study also found that 12 per cent of the population will have at least one form of mental illness in their lifetime.

For the majority, mental illness will hit by the time they’re 29 years old.

But there’s a big gap between the onset of mental illness and the time a person seeks help.

It took an average of four years for someone suffering from depression to seek help.

As for alcohol abuse, the gap is even wider at 13 years.

Clinical Associate Professor Chong Siow Ann, Senior Consultant & Vice Chairman of Medical Board (Research), from the IMH said this could be due to three reasons — failure to identify the illness, stigma and the lack of access to help.

Dr Chua Hong Choon, CEO of IMH, said: "Anyone who has a mental health problem or thinks he has a health problem should speak to someone about it.

"It can be someone in the community, it can be a doctor, it can be a psychiatrist.

"Every doctor in Singapore has basic training as a medical doctor to deal with mental health, but in the last few years, a lot more effort has been put in to increase the capability of ours GPs as part of the chronic disease management programme."

Dr Chua also stressed the importance of engaging the community, to deal with mental illnesses.

"We have trained up to 50 GPs across the island to manage some mental illnesses.

"There’s a graduate diploma that has been developed and is actually being administered and we have another group of GPs that are being trained to deal with mental problems.

"We increased our capability from the professional end and we hope that the public will give support to those with mental illness to step forward for treatment," he said.

— CNA/ck