COVID-19: One-stop mental health platform launched to match users with resources and helplines
SINGAPORE: A website with various resources on mental health was launched on Tuesday (Jul 7) to help users assess their wellbeing and match them with forms of assistance if needed.
The website, called mindline.sg, was developed by teams from the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
In a press release, they said the platform consolidates access to many resources and tools to help people "access and navigate care, with an emphasis on stress and coping”.
It comes at a time when COVID-19 has brought about more sources of stress for many, said experts.
“In the early days, it was just anxiety over what the disease meant,” said Dr Loke Wai Chiong, clinical director (programmes) and head of integrated health promotion at MOHT.
He noted that when Singapore entered the “circuit breaker”, stress factors like isolation, working from home or home-based learning, as well as domestic abuse surfaced.
“We want to enable everyone in Singapore to get the help that they really need easily and conveniently,” Dr Loke said.
Resources available on the platform include helplines and counselling by phone, employment support, financial assistance, family and caregiving support, volunteer opportunities, as well as health and fitness tips.
Users can also learn more about their emotional wellbeing through self-assessment based on a “clinically validated” tool.
A series of questions are put to users, for instance, whether they felt nervous, anxious or on edge over the last two weeks. Depending on the answers, users will be guided to the appropriate channels of intervention and support.
Stressing that the platform allows users to remain anonymous, Dr Loke said: “We want to … empower individuals to take care of their holistic wellbeing in a safe way … they don’t have to feel embarrassed or shame that they are seeking help.”
NO PHYSICAL HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH
There is a need to shift towards self-care and self-management of stress and coping issues, in the same way that physical health is promoted through being active and having a healthy lifestyle, said Dr Loke.
“In MOHT, we think about chronic diseases and for many years we talk about diabetes and hypertension,” he added. “There’s no health or physical health without mental health … without mental health, seriously, your physical health will also suffer.”
In future iterations of the platform, the team is thinking of adding more personalised features to direct users to the help they need, emotionally intelligent chat bots, as well as phone therapy services linked to counselling networks in Singapore.
The user experience could also be customised to different segments of users such as youth, elderly and healthcare workers, Dr Loke said.
“We hope more people will use this. We will over time be able to analyse how the needs change in the community," he said.
"That could help us as a whole as providers, as government, as non-profit sectors to support the needs and resource these services accurately and correctly over time.”