More Help for People with Mental Health Issues to Ease Back into Workforce

September 11, 201711:55 am718 views

An apprenticeship scheme is launched to help people with mental health issues prepare to get back into the professional world from the beginning of next year. Trained to help others who suffer from similar conditions, they can apply for the apprenticeship programme and receive a training allowance during the six-month work trial before moving into formal employment.

The scheme is the result of collaboration between the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Workforce Singapore and social service organisations. Only those who belong to peer support specialists can apply for the programme, Straits Times reports.

These specialists should have been certified under a 180-hour programme held by the NCSS and Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where they can learn how to help others recover from mental health issues. They eventually collaborate and work with social workers and counsellors in social service and healthcare institutions.

Besides the apprenticeship scheme, NCSS is set to engage and roll out consultancy service to support 12 programmes run by social service organisations next year. Not only to help better integration of peer support specialists, these initiatives aim to find roles and develop career pathways for peer support specialists, while training staff to create an inclusive environment for those with mental health issues as well. Additionally, the schemes are part of government’s programmes in promoting mental well-being and acceptance of those with such conditions.

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Parliamentary Secretary for Health Amrin Amin said at Singapore Mental Health Conference 2017 at the Singapore Expo on Friday (Sept 8) that more than 90,000 residents have been reached through community outreach teams over the past five years. This group aims to raise awareness of mental health, identify those at risk of mental illness, and conduct preventive care programmes.

The preventive care initiatives include exercise, healthy eating campaign, and brain stimulating activities. Senior citizens are also invited to be socially active through doing hobbies and joining interest groups. Mr Amrin said in a bid to build mental health resilience, it is crucial to raise public awareness of mental health conditions and coping skills as well as providing needful information.

First initiated by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in 2013, the conference is jointly organised by IMH, the Health Promotion Board, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the National Council of Social Service.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that the current 18 community outreach teams will be more than doubled to 50 by 2021 by AIC. The agency will supervise community care in Singapore, which includes nursing homes, senior care centres and day rehabilitation facilities.

Additionally, MOH is also expanding the Mental Health GP Partnership Programme, where IMH and acute hospitals partner can manage patients with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders.

More than 120 GPs have joined the programme and it aims to increase the number of partners to 180 by 2021, added Mr Amrin.

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