S’poreans’ Attitude Towards Mental Health Improving, Fight Against Stigma Requires Effort From Society: Study

Attitude Towards Mental Health Improving In Singapore: NCSS Study

Exasperated by the pandemic, mental health has come to the forefront of many discussions among thought leaders in Singapore.

While speaking about mental health is a huge hurdle that society has overcome, there is still more that can be done, according to the latest study by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

Findings have shown that Singaporeans’ attitude towards mental health has improved since 2017, with more folks aware of its implications and effects.

However, there is still work to be done in tackling the stigma, as numbers show that Singaporeans are also more apprehensive about mental health cases.

Positive shift in attitude to mental health but distrust & misconceptions prevail

In 2021, the NCSS studied public attitudes towards persons with mental health conditions with over 2,000 participants.

Since it was first conducted in 2017, there has been a positive shift in these attitudes. Here are some key takeaways from the study:

  • Seven in ten participants agreed that people with mental health conditions can recover. An uptick from six in ten in 2017.
  • Four in ten participants scored positively when asked about how they felt towards persons with mental health conditions. Up from two respondents in 2017.
  • Six in ten participants were willing to work with persons with mental health conditions. Up from five in ten in 2017.
  • One in four participants had the misconception that the main cause of mental health stemmed from a lack of self-discipline and willpower. Down from one in three in 2017.
  • Among those in the workforce, two in five agreed that organisations provide adequate support for mental well-being.

However, distrust towards those with mental health conditions persists, with more folks agreeing that they’d rather not live next door to someone with mental health conditions.

There’s also an increase in people who think it’s frightening that people with mental health conditions live in residential neighbourhoods.

BTL now shifts to changing the mindsets within groups in society

In 2018, the NCSS launched the “Beyond the Label ” (BTL) movement to encourage reflection towards existing attitudes, educate the public and facilitate more conversations about mental health.

With these latest findings, the BTL has shifted gears from raising awareness to shifting attitudes in select groups in society.

To do this, they launched BTL 2.0. Together with 26-like minded partners, they aim to create an empowering and inclusive environment for all Singaporeans.

National strategy in the works according to President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob was in attendance to launch the new initiative during BTL Fest 2022, the movement’s flagship event on 7 Oct.

Image courtesy of Beyond the Label

Speaking to members of the media, she mentioned that Covid-19 has caused Singaporeans to experience psychological distress, with uncertainties surrounding the pandemic only aggravating this further.

This meant that mental health and well-being struggles were brought to the fore. This also encouraged openness with more folks engaging in these conversations.

From these conversations, a national-level task force was formed to oversee and coordinate mental health efforts for Singapore’s society.

Plans for an overarching national strategy and action plan are currently in the works, said President Halimah.

Disassociate mental health with criminality & focus on inclusivity

She also stressed the importance of social inclusivity, starting with the children and youth.

Image courtesy of Beyond the Label

Additionally, President Halimah implored others to disassociate mental health conditions from criminality or violence and says mental health exists on a spectrum.

Lastly, she added that everyone in society has to play their part in shifting the needle on mental health.

Simply lending a listening ear, encouraging those with conditions to seek professional help and looking out for our loved ones would help greatly in building a caring Singapore.

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Featured image adapted from AJB Cruz on Flickr.

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