According to a study done by the Institute of Mental Health last year, one in seven people in Singapore has experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime. Yet, a 2016 study showed that more than three-quarters of people with a mental health condition in Singapore did not seek any professional help—this was described as a “treatment gap”.
In 2014, a nationwide study examining mental health literacy by the Institute of Mental Health found that a majority of people believed that those with mental health issues could just get better if they wanted to. This misconception can prevent those who need help from coming forward. But when IMH opened their Mental Health Helpline to the public in 2015, call numbers surged by 70%. So clearly there is a need to discuss this more openly.
Some of the greatest difficulties facing those with mental health issues are mistrust and fear—and these are often unfounded.
Some are afraid that they would have to declare their condition to a prospective employer if they sought treatment, and this might affect their chances of securing a job interview. This is false.
According to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), an employer should not ask about one’s mental health condition in a job application form.
If you come across a job application form that appears unfair or discriminatory, you can report it to TAFEP.
This is not the only way the Singapore government is attempting to minimise discrimination against people with mental health issues.
Today (March 3), Minister of State for Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Zaqy Mohamad said during the Committee of Supply debates in Parliament that one can use sick leave for both physical and mental health conditions.
He added that the doctor does not need to include the nature of the patient’s health condition unless he/she consented to it.
Currently, the MOM website defined this guideline for sick leave:
“To qualify for paid sick leave, you must be certified to be unfit for work by a medical practitioner registered under the Medical Registration Act or Dental Registration Act.”
It doesn’t define “unfit” to be a physical or mental condition.
We love the government’s efforts in trying to minimise discrimination against mental health, yet people with such conditions are still often misunderstood.
Here are 10 common misconceptions about mental health, which can prevent those who need it from seeking help. The animals are just there to remind you to show a little compassion. You wouldn’t treat them any differently right?
If you or anyone you know feels down and wants to talk about it, don’t wait. These helplines in Singapore are here to help:
- Mental Health Helpline: 6389 2222
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
- Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-221-4444
- Silver Ribbon: 63861928, 67424190, 63853714
Read other Mental Health stories here:
Text: Karen Fong
Additional text: Hidayah Idris