SG Mental Health Matters is a community of mental health advocates and researchers, and in 2021 they ran the #AreWeOkay poll to better understand the issues of access, affordability, and quality of mental healthcare in Singapore. With two of its members today – former nominated member of parliament Anthea Ong and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Rayner Tan – we learn more about the community’s work, the poll’s findings, and their proposal for a Mental Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Office in Singapore.
One year ago, we documented community initiatives and discussed structural challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. One year later, we are inviting the same guests back to talk about their work, how they are feeling, and what they think we have learnt or have yet to learn from the pandemic. Today, we have former nominated member of parliament Anthea Ong. Our conversation centres on mental and psychological health in Singapore as well as moving from awareness to acceptance to action. Anthea also shares the initiatives in which she’s been involved and her new podcast series, “Shades of Love”, set to launch on August 7 this year.
Feelings of burnout can be unsettling or even terrifying, and around the world social work burnout has been very well-documented. Over time, we hope to better understand the causes of burnout, including the structural causes, but for now, as a start, it feels important to normalise such discourse in Singapore. Therefore, in this episode, we speak to two young Singaporean social workers, “Jing” and John Lim (savethesocialworker.com) about their experiences of burnout and self-care.
The last time we discussed mental health on this platform was in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. With former nominated member of parliament Anthea Ong, we examined the levels of awareness, acceptance, and action. Today, with Chirag Agarwal, co-founder of Talk Your Heart Out, we focus on mental health at the workplace. In addition, we discuss the state of professional services and the structural, policy, and cultural changes for the future.
Even though a survey conducted by nominated MP Anthea Ong and her team of volunteers yielded some useful insights about the accessibility and affordability of mental health treatment in Singapore, from a research perspective more data is still needed to better understand the state of mental health in the country. In fact, the concession that the survey was “not an official study aligned to rigorous standards of academic research” (ST, Mar. 5) should bring attention to the need for improved data collection, presentation, and collaboration.