This openness is a good thing because it raises the general public’s awareness and understanding of mental illness and corrects common misconceptions about people with mental health issues, thereby helping to reduce stigma and prejudice. It is commendable that British royals Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, together with Prince Harry are actively championing the ‘shattering of the stigma of mental health’ through encouraging people to talk about their experiences through simple conversations.
Dr Francis Yeoh
As a community-based Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) in this sector, we are heartened by such developments in openness. They have given greater impetus to our work with partner organisations in Singapore to provide the best possible mental health care and rehabilitative services.
While clinical support is essential for persons recovering from mental illness, community based care is no less important in providing them with a better quality of life and improved acceptance of treatment. Reintegration and rehabilitation will help them live and work normally within the community. As the first community mental health agency established in Singapore, SAMH has been providing such holistic care services since 1968.
A major milestone in 2016 was the official opening of MINDSET Learning Hub (MLH) in Jurong by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. MLH is a significant long term partnership with the Jardine Matheson Group, through MINDSET Care Limited, its philanthropic arm. This centre was designed as a one-stop specialised training centre and manpower resource facility, providing integrated hands-on-training and community care to persons-in-recovery in a supportive environment. By offering Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training as well as non-WSQ courses, MLH aims to equip trainees with the necessary skills and help them secure meaningful employment in areas such as hospitality, healthcare, housekeeping, retail and F&B. This is important as reintegration through employment is the key to rehabilitation.
“While clinical support is essential for persons recovering from mental illness, community based care is no less important in providing them with a better quality of life and improved acceptance of treatment.”
The relationship with Jardine offers access to employment opportunities within Jardine’s group of companies such as Guardian, 7-Eleven, Mandarin Oriental and Cold Storage. We hope that in due time, MLH will become a model for effective corporate-VWO partnerships that will spawn similar projects in other charitable sectors.
Another area of significant development in recent years is SAMH’s creative services work. Providing persons in recovery with a creative and supportive environment for art expression has been shown to bring about therapeutic benefits, promote social interaction and foster open dialogues. These undeniably contribute to one’s mental wellbeing.
We now have three centres in Singapore, namely Creative Hub at Goodman Arts Centre, Creative Mindset in Jurong Point and the newly set-up Creative SAY! in Marsiling, all offering regular art making sessions not just for persons in recovery but also for the public.
SAMH has grown much in size and scope—it’s operating budget has increased some 40% since I first joined the Board in 2011. Nevertheless, much still remains to be done to build up a comprehensive mental health ecosystem in Singapore. As we approach SAMH’s half century mark, the Board plans to embark on a strategic review to position the association more effectively to address the opportunities and challenges for the longer term. My thanks and appreciation go to the amazing collection of talented individuals from diverse backgrounds serving with great dedication and energy in the Board.
We are grateful too, for the continuing support of our funding organisations—Ministry of Health, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), National Council of Social Service (NCSS), National Arts Council (NAC) as well as generous contributions from numerous corporate and individual supporters throughout the years. Please accept our heartfelt thanks.
Last but certainly not least, we are absolutely delighted that Speaker of Parliament, Madam Halimah Yacob has graciously accepted our invitation to be Patron for SAMH. Madam Halimah is a well-respected politician and a strong supporter for the mental health cause in Singapore. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to be our Patron.
Thank you everyone, for your support as we continue to work towards our vision of ‘Mental Wellness for All!’