Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Connect with Facebook Connect with Google For Doctors
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of Interests
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
What are your interests?
Please select at least 3 interests.
NEXT
NEXT
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of doctors
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
Follow your favourite doctors
We found some doctors you may like. Click continue to follow them.
CONTINUE
CONTINUE
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

or

OOPS!

SOMETHING WENT WRONG.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

OOPS! SOMETHING

WENT WRONG.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

YOUR QUESTION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUESTION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET

BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR THREAD HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION

YOUR THREAD

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO THE FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

YOUR REVIEW HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR REVIEW

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

OOPS!

THERE IS SOMETHING

WRONG WITH YOUR EMAIL.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

OOPS! THERE IS

SOMETHING WRONG

WITH YOUR EMAIL.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

YOUR EMAIL HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR EMAIL

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR CONSULTATION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL

GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY.

YOUR CONSULTATION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS

WILL GET

TO YOU

SHORTLY.

MESSAGES TO

Almost 10% of Singaporeans Suffer From Mental Health Issues; A Psychologist Sheds Light On Common Conditions

Almost 10% of Singaporeans Suffer From Mental Health Issues; A Psychologist Sheds Light On Common Conditions undefined

 

To raise awareness of mental health, DoctorxDentist invited Dr Matthew Woo, a Singapore registered clinical psychologist to host an AMA session. He has been helping mental health patients for almost 19 years! 

He shared a lot of personal insights and advice to help you better understand trauma, stress, anxiety and mood-related disorders. Here are some things you should pay attention to.

Before we begin, here are some fast facts on mental health illness in Singapore. 

  • According to a study by IMH, 1 in 6 people suffer from some form of mental illness. [1]
  • Depression, alcohol abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the top 3 most common disorders in Singapore. [2]
  • About 10% of the population in Singapore suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders. [3]
  • Out of this, 6% have depression, 0.9% have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and 3% have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). [3]

mental health statistics in singapore

The statistics above are quite alarming, given the fact that mental health is not an illness that is very talked about in Singapore. Most people with mental health issues suffer in silence, and this can affect their relationship with their families and their work performance.

To raise awareness for mental health, DoctorxDentist invited Dr Matthew Woo, a Singapore registered clinical psychologist to host an AMA session. He has been helping mental health patients for almost 19 years! 

He shared a lot of personal insights and advice to help you better understand trauma, stress, anxiety, and mood-related disorders. Here are some things you should pay attention to. 

School counsellors help fight the stigma surrounding mental issues

counselling for mental health in singapore schools

Despite its prevalence, mental illness is still stigmatised in Singapore. [4]

However, Dr Woo says that attitudes towards mental illness have significantly improved compared to 25 years ago when he started work as a psychologist. 

He attributes this to the counsellors in school. These days, most s chools have with psychologists or counsellors. Thus, the students are used to counselling as a way to cope with problems, which helps with removing the stigma about mental illnesses.

You may be surprised at how open younger children are to psychology interventions and care!

The key difference between psychologists and psychiatrists 

People often get confused about this. Dr Woo explained that the basic difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist is this:

  • A psychologist treats symptoms and mental health conditions with interventions and programs.
  • A psychiatrist, being a trained medical doctor, with specialty training in psychiatry, treats mental health conditions with medications. 

The three most common mental health conditions in Singapore

 mental health conditions in singapore

According to the second Singapore Mental Health Study conducted in 2016, t he 3 most common mental health conditions are:

  • Mood disorders - depression and bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders - OCD and generalised anxiety disorder
  • Alcohol use disorders - alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence

Seeing a psychologist in Singapore costs from $$40 - $300

seeing a psychologist in singapore

In public hospitals, the fee to see a psychologist will typically be between $40 and $120.

Alternatively, psychologists in private practice can charge between $120 and $300.

Can you claim Medisave or insurance for seeing a psychologist in Singapore?

According to Dr Woo, Medisave is currently only possible if there is inpatient admission; meaning, you see the psychologist as an inpatient. He does not recall Medisave being used for outpatient psychologist services. 
 

From his experience, some of his patients have insurance that allows them to see psychologists in private practice for a limited number of sessions. However, these patients are typically expatriates and are usually not from the local Singaporean population. 

Do anti-depressants work for patients with mood disorders?

antidepressant therapy singapore

The short answer is yes, but Dr Woo notes that it also depends on the profile of side effects the patient is experiencing.

Anti-depressants like Fluoxetine (Prozac) can work, however, some patients may opt for psychotherapy to supplement their medication.

Depression is not necessarily purely biological in nature

depression in singapore.jpg

Environmental and situational factors can play a big part in depressed moods or lowered mood levels.

Dr Woo believes that seeing situations in a different light can cause changes in behaviour and mood levels.

Will people with depression ever fully recover?

A reader asked Dr Woo if people who suffer from depression would be able to fully recover from the condition. 

Dr Woo attributes 'complete recovery' to a couple of factors. He believes that the level of motivation, the idiosyncratic response of the client to a particular brand of therapy, and the response to antidepressants matters. 

From his experience, he has had many interesting stories of recovery of depressed clients, as well as stories of clients who have partially recovered.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? 

obsessive compulsive disorder singapore OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where you have persistent and irrational thoughts, impulses or images that cause anxiety or distress like an overwhelming fear of germs and dirt. [2]

You would often repeat actions like checking and rechecking locks several times over. 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder has been discussed from various perspectives 

obsessive compulsive disorder singapore OCD

Dr Woo explained that obsessive-compulsive disorder can be caused by various factors, according to the perspective taken on the issue.

  • From a cognitive behavioural standpoint, obsessive-compulsive disorder is caused by the patient's thoughts about feared outcomes.
  • From a trauma perspective, it is the patient's adverse childhood experiences that are giving the symptoms. 
  • From a biological perspective, it is the patient's chemical imbalance in the brain and the ability to regulate serotonin levels that is causing the condition. 

From the perspective of interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), which is an evidence-based therapy for the treatment of bipolar disorder, people may get bipolar disorder due to a vulnerability to changes in the circadian rhythm (which is our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle).

What are the ways to control alcohol abuse/dependence?

alcohol abuse singapore

Dr Woo practices a brand of therapy called the Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) to help desensitise individuals to urges for alcohol.

EMDR is good to desensitise (decrease) the range of negative emotions in response to emotional triggers.  

Alternatively, there is a National Addiction Centre at IMH that people can go to for help. 

How can you find a suitable psychologist in Singapore?

how to find psychologist in singapore.jpg

In psychotherapy terms, most people base their choice of counsellor or psychotherapist on the rapport or 'therapeutic alliance'. 

This basically translates to: 

  • "Can my psychotherapist understand what I am saying?"
  • "Do I feel comfortable enough to share my problems so that we can work towards a solution together?"

Other factors include the psychotherapy fees, the general liking, and respect for the psychotherapist's expertise. 

How can you help someone in denial of their mental illness?

 mental health conditions in singapore

If the person is significantly impaired with regards to capacity for work, social relationships, and daily routines, this situation may be severe enough to be considered mental illness.

In such cases, you can persuade them to seek help by pointing out that a professional can help resolve the issues they are facing.

Consider getting a friend from the same faith as him/her to reach out. This may help especially if the afflicted person is in denial.

Seek help if you need it

 mental health conditions in singapore

If you are suffering from a psychological condition or if you suspect that you or someone you know may be facing issues with mental illness, it is best to start looking for help as soon as possible.

Take Dr Woo's advice and consult a medical professional so you can stop things from getting worse.


DoctorxDentist's Ask Me Anything (AMA) enables open health conversations between readers, health professionals, and patients from all walks of life. View the complete list of upcoming DoctorxDentist AMAs here.

If you are a patient or health professional who's interested in hosting an AMA to share your story, please email editor@dxd.com.sg. Our team will contact you with more details.

References:

 1. https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1733/busting-the-myths-of-mental-illness#footnotes

 2. https://www.healthxchange.sg/wellness/mental-health/fast-facts-mental-health-singapore

 3. https://www.healthxchange.sg/wellness/mental-health/anxiety-singapore-stats-types-risk

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5652546/

1189 views 21 Dec 2018 Medically reviewed by DxD on 16 May 2019.
Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other answers tagged Mental Health or ask your own question now FOR FREE.