Measures to tackle mental health problems through a community approach will be stepped up to ensure timely help to those at risk and peace of mind for neighbours.
Dementia care facilities will also be ramped up to meet the needs of an ageing population, said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor.
"Sometimes, it does take a village to enable patients to recover, and recover well in the community," she said during yesterday's Budget debate.
She was addressing the concerns of several Members of Parliament, including Ms Tin Pei Ling (Marine Parade GRC), regarding mental health issues.
"Real day-to-day issues such as neighbourly disputes due to alleged smells, conspiracies on fixing each other and littering... threaten to deepen the animosity between neighbours, making it even harder for patients or family members to consider mental health issues and seek professional help," said Ms Tin.
In response, the Health Ministry plans to build more local community support networks made up of grassroots leaders, volunteers, social work agencies, the police and town councils.
At Kembangan-Chai Chee, for instance, volunteers have been given basic mental health and eldercare education to help them identify residents at risk and link them up with appropriate resources.
The Health Ministry is exploring the possibility of setting up such networks in 50 constituencies. General practitioners (GPs) will also play a part. The ministry aims to train 120 GPs by 2017 and set up more allied health and specialist-led teams to tackle mental health issues in the community.
The Institute of Mental Health's aftercare services - where discharged patients at higher risk receive phone calls and home visits - will be expanded.
Capacity for dementia care will also be beefed up, said Dr Khor. The number of dementia day care places will be increased from 650 to 3,000 by 2020.
This article was first published on March 13, 2015.
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