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Almost 50,000 Singapore residents received mental health treatment every year from 2016 to 2019: MOH

Almost 50,000 Singapore residents received mental health treatment every year from 2016 to 2019: MOH

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a need for more mental health support. (File photo: Grace Yeoh)

SINGAPORE: About 49,800 Singapore residents received treatment for mental health issues every year on average from 2016 to 2019, said Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health (MOH) Rahayu Mahzam on Tuesday (Nov 2). 

This number includes those seen at public and private hospitals, polyclinics and general practitioner clinics, she added. 

Data for 2020 is not available yet, said Ms Rahayu, responding to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament Faisal Manap (WP-Aljunied).

Mr Faisal had asked for the number of people receiving treatment for mental health issues every year from 2016 to 2020, those treated for depression and anxiety, and the demographics and causes of these cases. 

The average number of residents seeking care for depression and anxiety every year was 33,700 and 34,000 respectively in the same period, though this includes repeat attendances and are “not unique headcounts”, said Ms Rahayu in her response. 

About 60 per cent of patients with anxiety or depression are under 60 years old, 70 per cent of them are Chinese, and about 30 per cent live in three-room or smaller public flats, she added. 

“Breakdown by patients’ education level is not available,” she added. 

The 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) found that unemployment, as well as divorced or separated marital status are “significantly associated” with depression, said Ms Rahayu. 

“The same study postulated that stress may be a risk factor for development of anxiety disorder. The 2010 SMHS found that nearly half of those with depression and anxiety also had a chronic physical illness.” 

ANNUAL SUICIDE NUMBERS

Mr Faisal also asked about the annual number of suicides and attempted suicides, as well as the demographics and causes of these cases. 

Younger people aged 19 and below account for “disproportionately fewer” suicides, said Ms Rahayu in her response. 

The converse is true for people aged 60 and above, she said, noting that the number of suicide cases is public information, released by the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) in its annual report on the registration of births and deaths. 

According to the 2020 report published in June this year, there were 452 deaths by suicide in 2020, up from 400 in 2019.

Of the 452 cases in 2020, 320 were male and 132 were female.

Regarding the demographics of suicide cases, Ms Rayayu said: “By race, Malays account for disproportionately fewer suicides, while converse is true for Indians. Breakdown by education level and economic background (is) not available,” 

“There are usually multiple factors that may lead a person to commit and attempt suicide. These factors include relationship, family, social, financial, mental and physical health issues.”

Source: CNA/hw(ac)

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