Mind Matters, Family Matters


On 27 and 28 May 2016, the Singapore Mental Health Conference was jointly organised by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Health Promotion Board (HPB) and National Council of Social Services (NCSS). Its theme was ‘Mind Matters, Family Matters’, and the conference was attended by over 600 delegates from both the healthcare and social sectors.

The conference shared knowledge and ideas of how the family can play a big role in supporting clients with mental health conditions and their caregivers. The term ‘family’ refers not only to our immediate family but also to our friends, colleagues, neighbours, volunteers, grassroots leaders and the wider support network of care professionals. 

Our Guest-of-Honour and keynote speaker, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Tan Chuan-Jin also highlighted the importance of family in supporting each other through stresses in life. Minister Tan shared, “mental health conditions come as a package with intertwining medical and social issues. To deliver person-centred care for those with mental health conditions, these issues need to be addressed holistically. This will involve both my Ministry and the Ministry of Health, along with other social, health and community care agencies.” 

In line with that, this year’s conference also featured a breakout session titled “The Next Phase of Primary Care: Managing Mental Health Patients”. Our distinguished speakers each covered a range of topics. This included the collaborative management and support of patients with mental health conditions in the community, their motivation, and their hopes for greater development in this field.

Dr Eng Soo Kiang, one of the speakers who is from CCK Family Clinic and a Mental Health GP Partnership Programme partner, highlighted the increasing rates of co-morbidities between physical and mental illnesses. As such, Dr Eng strongly believes that family medicine should provide a platform where a patient can receive holistic care for both aspects, regardless of the dominant presenting problem. To ensure that these patients are well supported in the community, Dr Eng also advocates for a many helping hands approach. As part of this approach, GPs are trained to attend to mental health issues and may partner with allied-health services to support a patient’s psychosocial needs. 

The breakout concluded with an interesting Q&A during which our speakers shared their thoughts on factors leading to a successful collaboration among the various service providers. Their perseverance in passionately and actively serving this group of individuals despite the challenges was definitely encouraging. Ultimately, this journey is not only about serving, but also in gaining of precious life lessons through it all.

To find out how you may be involved in supporting patients with mental health conditions, please click here.

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