SINGAPORE: The government is increasing its efforts to tackle rising levels of depression among Singaporeans.
According to police records, the number of attempted suicide increased by about 40 per cent from 706 cases in 2007, to 992 cases in 2011.
To combat this trend, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the government is adopting a multi—pronged strategy involving different agencies such as the MCYS, MOE, MHA and stakeholders in the social sectors.
This was revealed by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in a written response to questions in Parliament on the problem of the rising number of people suffering from depression.
At the prevention level, there have been enhanced efforts to raise awareness about mental health.
In 2011, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) reached out to some 170,000 students and adults, sharing with them information on recognising early symptoms of mental illness. The board also stressed the importance of early treatment, and recommended coping skills.
Recognising that social support is key to suicide prevention, students are taught to build healthy relationships while befriending services are provided for the elderly.
For patients who have attempted suicide, hospitals provide crisis intervention, including psychotherapy, follow—up counselling support — and for acute cases — hospitalisation and sedation. Access to mental health services has also improved.
For example, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) operates a 24—hour crisis hotline and deploys a team of staff to de—escalate stressful situations in patients’ homes.
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