Photo of university graduates from Straits Times

Due to a myriad of social problems from unemployment to work stress, the number of young Singaporeans between the age of 16 to 30 seeking mental health treatment has increased by threefold. According to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), there are 1,580 seeking help in 2017, three times greater than 550 in 2015.

The IMH’s hotline unit, Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), revealed that only about half completed a health check with a counsellor and among them, 76% showed significant mental distress like depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. A IMH counsellor said that most are in their 20s but did decline to state what is the key reason behind the increase:

“As many as 80 per cent of the young people who approach Chat are in their 20s. In 2015, we saw more youth in their early 20s reaching out to us. Now, it is a more widespread age group of youth throughout their 20s.”

The finding collaborates with increasing media reports over secondary school students committing suicide after getting poor exam results. According to the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), the number of elderly committing suicide has also jumped 19%.

Singapore is the world’s most expensive country, consecutively ranked 4 times by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The island state is also one of the most crowded in the world, with the population having increased from 4 million to 5.7 million in less than a decade. According to labour statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, Singaporeans work 2,350 hours on average – the longest working hours in the world.

Despite increased working hours, Singaporeans do not enjoy the same purchasing power of a Japanese in Tokyo or Korean in South Korea where working hours were notoriously stretched. This is largely due to waves and waves of tax increases in the past 5 years. Water prices were raised 30% last year, utility bills jumped over 15% this year, new taxes were levied and a GST increase of 2% is coming in 2021. Every month, food and transport cost increases eat away what little take-home salary after CPF’s regressive deduction at 37%.

Despite official announcement and state media propaganda claiming otherwise, Singapore is currently in a recession-like economy with unemployment rate at historical high. The current unemployment rate for Singapore citizens sit at 3%, while the unemployment rate for Singaporeans under the age of 30 hit as high as 5.6%.