Free and affordable mental healthcare in Singapore

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In today's demanding world of high expectations and cut-throat competition, all of us are stuck in the endless loop of working hard, delivering results and working even more.

A busy lifestyle along with the pressure of performing well in all walks of life is taking a toll on all of us without our realisation. Every day we deal with stressful situations that are affecting our overall mental wellbeing.

While these societal pressures are acting like a ticking bomb for many, there are a significant number of people who have already succumbed to the repercussions of unchecked stress and psychological struggles.

According to a 2018 report published by the Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 7 people in Singapore have experienced a mood, anxiety or alcohol-use disorder in their lifetime, while 1 in 16 people have experienced major depressive disorders at some point in their lifetime.

These numbers are alarmingly high and what is even more alarming is that majority of these people did not seek any professional help.

One reason for this treatment gap could be the social stigma associated with mental illness while another reason seems to be the inability of most people in recognising the symptoms of mental disorders.

Both the issues need urgent intervention and people need to understand that mental health is as crucial as physical health.

So, if you suspect that you might be dealing with a mental health issue, you can seek help from one of these support groups or mental health helplines in Singapore either free of cost, or at affordable prices.

Family Life Society Counselling at Catholic Churches

Family Life Society (FLS), a non-profit charity, offers professional help to everyone approaching it, regardless of social background, religion or race.

This charity, whose patron is the Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, focusses mainly on parenting and pregnancy counselling. They also support people struggling with personal and family issues through their network of volunteer-counsellors who offer free counselling services at 10 Catholic churches in Singapore.

You can reach out to them by calling on 64880278 or 63820688 (Monday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm).

Mental Health Organisations Singapore: Counselling Helplines

The following are some mental health helplines, Singapore, that you can approach for free counselling sessions. These are great options for those who are not comfortable with actual, in-person sessions and would prefer to talk over the phone or get online counselling.

Care Corner Counselling Centre

Aimed at reaching out to needy, lower-income families, this non-profit social service organisation has 33 centres in Singapore. Their services are open to anyone who needs help and one can reach them on 1800-353 5800 for free Mandarin counselling.

Fei Yue eCounselling Centre

Youths can email their queries at admin@ec2.sg or visit www.ec2.sg for online counselling.

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)

This is a 24-hours open suicide prevention helpline. Call on 1800-221 4444 to seek help if you have suicidal tendency.

Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)

This helpline is available for all types of mental health-related help. Reach out to them at 1800-283 7019.

Tinkle Friend helpline (by Singapore Children's Society)

This is an initiative for primary school children. You can call them on 1800-274 4788 (Monday to Friday, 2.30 pm to 5 pm) or chat online on www.tinklefriend.com.

AWARE helpline

This is a gender-equality advocacy group that offers free as well as affordable counselling to women. Women can call them at 1800-774 5935 for free counselling.

However, the group also offers some affordable mental healthcare services such as counselling sessions for sexual assault and harassment cases.

By paying 1 per cent of your monthly income (capped at $150) or $20 (for unemployed women) as counselling fees, you can access their services. The following are the three active wings of the organisation:

  • Women's Care Centre: Call on 1800-777 5555 (Monday-Friday, 10 am to 6 pm)
  • Sexual Assault Care Centre: Call on 6779 0282 or email them at sacc@aware.org.sg (Monday-Friday, 10 am to 10 pm)
  • Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Advisory: Call on 6950 9191, or write to them at whda@aware.org.sg (Monday-Friday, 10 am to 6 pm)

Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC)

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SCC offers affordable professional counselling in several languages/dialects such as English, Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Tamil. Available on all seven days of the week, they charge different prices for individuals, youth, children, couples and families.

A one-session package for children and youth costs $160.50, while it costs $160.60 for individuals, $235.40 for couples and $363.80 for families (4 persons).

Those buying 10-session packages can save 10 per cent to 20 per cent on every session fees. Visit their website https://scc.sg/e/ for more information.

Shan You

This non-profit charity organisation with Buddhist roots follows guiding values such as mindfulness, morality, compassion and wisdom to counsel struggling people at affordable rates.

They charge $80 per session (50 to 60 minutes) for individuals and $100 per session (65-75 minutes) for couples and families. They also offer discounts or waivers on request.

WINGS Counselling Centre

This facility was founded in 1995 as a pilot project. Initially called Ramakrishna Mission Counselling Centre (RMCC), the project focussed on guiding troubled youth in the beginning. However, their services evolved with time, extending to families and other individuals who need help.

The first counselling session costs $80 and the subsequent follow-up sessions are charged at $60. The centre also offers full or partial waivers at discretion.

Medisave

Sometimes, counselling is not enough to sort out your problems. There are deeper mental issues that require medical attention. For clinical mental disorders, you must seek psychiatric help for diagnosis of condition as well as treatment.

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At this point, Medisave can come to your rescue to ease the burden of your treatment charges. For inpatient treatment, one can use up to $150 per day to pay for hospital charges, capped at $5000 per year.

People can also use up to $500 per Medisave account for 20 chronic diseases including anxiety, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia under the MediSave 500 scheme. However, you will be required to pay a 15 per cent co-payment.

For more information, visit the MediSave page page on the Ministry of Health website.

The above mentioned mental health helplines in Singapore are some of the competent helplines from mental health organisations in Singapore that can assist you in managing your mental health without burning a hole in your pocket.

Help is available for everyone who is willing to acknowledge his/her problems and resolve them. You just need to get over your inhibitions and approach one of these portals to ease your mental struggles.

This article was first published in theAsianparent