29 Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Health (a) whether there has been an increase in the number of young people seeking help for mental health issues in the Institute of Mental Health in the past year; and (b) if so, whether the establishment of a second hospital specialising in mental health will be considered and evaluated by the Inter-agency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-Being.
Mr Ong Ye Kung: The number of outpatient attendances by youths1 at IMH in 2021 increased by 6%, while inpatient admissions decreased by 14.5%, compared to pre-pandemic baseline in 20192. There was no significant change in the number of emergency psychiatric attendances by youths over the same period.
MOH has developed various mental health services catering to youths: Multidisciplinary Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Mental Health (REACH) teams provide mental health support to students in school. Outside school, the Community Youth Mental Health Teams and Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) reached out to at-risk youths in the community, provide them with mental health assessments, and links them to appropriate resources and services for further support. Youths may also tap on counselling services and helplines offered by various National Council of Social Services (NCSS) organisations. All acute hospitals are able to provide general psychiatric screening for children and youths with psychiatric conditions, and selected public hospitals such as NUH, KKH, CGH and KTPH provide child and adolescent outpatient psychiatric services.
The National University Health System (NUHS) will be developing a wider scope of psychiatric services at the new Alexandra Hospital. These will include inpatient beds for acute and sub-acute psychiatric care and rehabilitation, as well as Child and Adolescent Psychiatry outpatient services.
There is no plan at this juncture to develop a second psychiatric hospital. We should understand that not all illnesses, including mental health issues, are always best addressed by an inpatient admission to an acute care hospital.
Note(s) to Question No(s) 29:
1 Referring to those aged 15 to 35 years old, following the National Youth Council’s age definition for youths.
Ministry of Health
2 August 2022