“Access to databases and resources containing the latest mental health journals and guidelines is already available, thanks to a collaboration with the Joanna Briggs Institute, a global leader in evidence-based health care” (IMH Opens Centre For Mental Health Education, Mr. Jalelah Abu Baker).
The report “IMH Opens Centre For Mental Health Education” (July 31, 2010) by Mr. Jalelah Abu Baker: it is wonderful to hear that the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) has taken steps in the right direction to dramatically enhance the standards of its health professionals, and the level of service to its patients. Given the proliferation of mental illnesses and disorders – largely attributed to the assortment of pressures and expectations mounted upon the individual – the aforementioned education efforts would go a long way in preparing the care specialists; and also to empower the patient’s family members in terms of care-taking, and being a constructive part in the rehabilitation process.
Beyond the existing reliance on theoretical lessons and information-based approaches, it is important for clinicians to be properly trained in a variety of circumstances and scenarios that they might have to deal with. The instability of various conditions require different levels of attention, and each mental disorder – also depending on its severity – would have to be patiently dealt with on a case-by-case basis. To complement the opening of the Centre of Mental Health, the IMH should engage the services of international experts to expose its staff to the techniques adopted overseas; particularly for illnesses that may be more complex, or something that has had no local precedents.
The establishment of the centre should also give the organisation the impetus to expand research and the collection of literature on mental disorders that are becoming increasingly prevalent. For instance, concerns over eating disorders – primarily in the form of anorexia nervosa and bulimia – have grown in Singapore; yet there is a dearth of resources discussing or addressing it. Beyond the traditional forms of mental disorders, there needs to be a more concerted effort on the part of IMH to establish an information and knowledge repository for research and advocacy efforts. Its partnership with the Joanna Briggs Institute should be a great starting point to gradually partner local clinics, hospitals and doctors to significantly heighten the levels of evidence-based healthcare.
Education also dictates the need for the centre to increase the levels of awareness on mental health issues. In spite of the variety of ad-hoc campaigns, the levels of stigma attached to mental disorders remain staunchly in place. Perhaps the education centre would provide for more long-term partnerships with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Silver Ribbon (Singapore), so as to provide for more sustainable year-long efforts to educate the general public on the facets and misconceptions of the illnesses.
The space for such potential growth and development is tremendous; and it would be to the benefit of IMH and Singaporeans should the former be able to actively capitalise on these advantages to increase its efforts on these fronts.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.