According to a doctor who volunteers at a community group, the number of people seeking mental treatment from mental health service MindCare has risen 42% over the past two years. The revelation by doctor Vincent Ng coincides with problems of growing poverty and the increasing financial pressure of living in Singapore.
A recent government finding by the Ministry of Social and Family Development reported that the number of families seeking public assistance has rose by 24% in the past four years. 1.3 million Singaporeans are living in poverty, heavily dependent on the government’s medical assistance scheme. According to a recent interview by Minister Ong Ye Kung, half the population do not pay income taxes because they earn less than S$2,500 a month in the world’s most expensive country. Suicide rates is also on the rise, hitting a record high in 2017. The financial woes of Singaporeans however are about to worsen with double digit increase in utility tariffs and increasing barriers to CPF withdrawal.
Also speaking at the event is Minister Koh Poh Koon who acknowledged the growing mental illness problems in Singapore, stating that Singaporean children are mostly affected and that they facing immense stress from studying and bullying in school:
“During our time, we fought over marbles and spiders, physical things that you can actually replace when damaged. But today, the problem is not a physical one, it’s a mental one.”
The PAP millionaire Minister was however quick to turn his speech into a positive one claiming that the mental hospital today is like a “holiday resort”:
“When you look at IMH as a hospital today, it is not like the old IMH of yesteryear. The old IMH of yesteryear was like a maximum security prison, everything was closed up. Today, the new IMH looks like a holiday resort, completely open and people are free to walk in and out.”