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Let’s talk real talk, Singapore! Mental Health Awareness Month is a time we kiasu folks can’t ignore. It’s like a wake-up call, reminding us that our mental well-being matters, and there’s help if we need it. The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Singapore has been at the forefront of advocating for mental well-being. Consequently, they are seeking to create a compassionate society that understands the intricacies of mental health and champions those facing its challenges.

In this article, we delve into the landscape of mental health in Singapore, exploring the various avenues available for seeking assistance and support, with a particular focus on men’s mental health.

Men and Mental Health in Singapore

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Unfortunately for the men in Singapore, men seem to fare much worse when dealing with mental health.

In 2021, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) reported that men made up about 70% of all suicides. One contributing factor highlighted is that men are less likely to ask for professional help than women.

According to SOS, there remains a perception among men that “help-seeking is associated with loss of status, damage of identity, dependence, incompetence and loss of control and autonomy.”

In this Asian notion of masculinity, men are discouraged from exhibiting physical or mental weakness. This discouragement results in significant stress due to self-perceived inadequacies in living up to the ideals of a man.

Depression: Depression is a prevalent mental health concern in Singaporean men, with many experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in daily activities. The societal pressure to exhibit strength and resilience may make it challenging for men to seek help for depression.

Common Mental Health Issues in Singaporean Men

Mental health concerns among Singaporean men have garnered increasing attention. While specific data on the prevalence of each mental health issue is limited from the provided resources, it’s evident that men in Singapore experience a range of mental health challenges.

Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety, can affect men in Singapore. The stressors of modern life, career pressures, and relationship issues may contribute to heightened anxiety levels.

Suicide Risk: Men in Singapore face a higher risk of completing suicide when experiencing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Societal expectations of self-reliance and reluctance to seek help can exacerbate this risk.

Substance Abuse: Some men may turn to substance abuse, such as alcohol, as a coping mechanism for their mental health challenges. Alcohol abuse is sometimes associated with mental health conditions in Singaporean men.

Can mental health and stress lead to sexual health issues?

Mental health and stress play a pivotal role in influencing various physiological aspects of our body, including sexual health. Here’s how:

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Stress: Chronic stress increases the production of adrenaline, which can constrict blood vessels. As erections depend on blood flow to the penis, reduced blood flow can lead to ED. Moreover, psychological stress can disrupt the brain signals that send the message to allow extra blood flow to the penis.

Premature Ejaculation (PE) and Anxiety: Anxiety, especially performance anxiety, is a primary psychological factor leading to PE. Men anxious about their sexual performance or pleasing their partner can become a self-fulfilling prophecy when this anxiety results in PE.

Relationship Strains: Mental health challenges can lead to decreased libido or interest in sexual activities, creating a distance between partners. The frustration, embarrassment, or lack of intimacy associated with ED and PE can further strain relationships.

Starting with resources like SIRE, a MOH-licensed men’s health specialist, individuals can access discreet consultations to address these concerns. Such platforms offer valuable information and guidance to help navigate these challenges, ensuring both mental and sexual well-being.

Mental Health Support in Singapore

With stress levels at an all-time high in Singapore, it is also alarming to note that Singapore has one of the lowest rates of psychiatrists among similar high-income nations, with approximately 2.8 psychiatrists for every 100,000 residents.

By comparison, another comparable high-income nation such as Australia has 13.5 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents.

It was also found that among Singaporeans who do not wish to seek professional help for mental health issues relating to the pandemic, 80% prefer to manage issues by themselves.

50% prefer to seek help from family or friends first. Other reasons cited were financial issues and privacy concerns. Interestingly, only 15% of Singaporeans believed it would not help.

There are some positive trends in Singapore as it relates to mental health and this article explores how society is changing.

Benefits of just talking it out

Choosing to suffer in silence can be deadly. A 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester showed that suppressing one’s emotions can increase chances of premature death from all causes by more than 30%.

Mental health, like physical health, is about wellness rather than illness.

Talk therapy, often referred to as counselling or a more professional term that you might have come across “cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)” – have found to have similar or even a higher level of effectiveness compared to medications.

CBT is an evidence-based form of talk therapy or psychotherapy. It is commonly used to successfully treat mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Additionally, CBT is also useful for physical health problems.

It involves specialised techniques to teach and equip one with helpful ways of coping with distress.

Other than mental and physical health issues, CBT has also been found to be effective in the form of marriage counselling or couple therapy for our social and relational issues.

Our physical and mental health are inherently connected, the stress from physical health issues can affect one’s mental health detrimentally and vice versa. A holistic treatment approach involves caring for both body and mind – and this very often results in the best outcomes.

IMH Singapore: Leading the Way in Mental Health Support for Men

Connection Between Mental Health in Singapore and IMH

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) plays a pivotal role in addressing and understanding mental health in Singapore. As the premier institution dedicated to mental health in the country, IMH focuses on providing clinical care, conducting research, and offering training in the field.

In recent years, IMH has been actively involved in studies that shed light on the state of mental health in Singapore. For instance, they launched a nationwide study to identify specific mental health issues and challenges faced by the population. Their research has also pointed towards an increase in mental health issues in Singapore, especially amid challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

IMH’s involvement extends to initiatives addressing the economic implications of mental health, with studies revealing the significant economic burden caused by issues like anxiety and depression in Singapore.

Furthermore, the rise in youth mental health cases has prompted IMH to provide specialised training to social service agencies to better cater to this demographic.

What is the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Singapore?

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Singapore is a renowned psychiatric institution. It is dedicated to the research, education, and clinical treatment of mental health conditions.

IMH plays a pivotal role in Singapore’s healthcare system. It offers comprehensive psychiatric services, conducts cutting-edge research, and trains future mental health professionals.

Moreover, IMH has a mission to improve the mental health and well-being of the nation. As a result, IMH stands as a cornerstone in addressing mental health challenges in the country.

How has IMH contributed to mental health awareness in Singapore?

IMH is a driving force in raising awareness about mental health issues in Singapore. The institute actively engages in public education campaigns and organizes events. It also collaborates with other mental health organizations to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.

Consequently, these efforts have significantly contributed to creating an open and understanding society.

As a result, individuals feel more comfortable seeking help for their mental health concerns.

Is IMH involved in initiatives related to Mental Health Awareness Month in Singapore?

Absolutely. IMH plays a vital role in Mental Health Awareness Month in Singapore, typically observed in October. During this month, IMH conducts various educational events, workshops, and seminars to promote mental health awareness. These initiatives aim to engage the community, dispel myths about mental health, and emphasise the importance of seeking help when needed.

How can individuals in Singapore benefit from the services provided by IMH?

Individuals in Singapore can access IMH’s services by seeking referrals from their primary care physicians or by directly reaching out to the institute. Upon reaching out to IMH, individuals will find a compassionate and supportive environment.
Moreover, IMH’s expert team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers offers comprehensive care to help individuals on their journey to better mental health.

How does IMH contribute to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Singapore?

IMH in Singapore is a driving force behind initiatives aimed at reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues. They actively promote public awareness campaigns and educational programs that foster understanding and empathy.

By engaging in community outreach and public discourse, IMH strives to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable discussing mental health openly.

The Institute actively promotes open conversations about mental well-being, underscoring that seeking help for mental health challenges is both courageous and an essential step toward healing. This emphasis aims to reduce stigma and foster a more supportive society.

How can individuals in Singapore access the services and support offered by IMH?

Accessing IMH’s services and support is a straightforward process. Individuals in Singapore can reach out to IMH by contacting their helpline or visiting the institute directly.

  • Location: IMH is located at Buangkok Green Medical Park in Singapore.
  • Contact Information: You can reach IMH at Tel: 6389 2000 for general inquiries, and it operates 24 hours a day.

IMH has a commitment to ensuring that those in need can easily connect with their resources, promoting accessibility to mental health care across the nation.

How to get to IMH?

To get to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Singapore, you can consider several modes of transportation:

  • By MRT: The nearest MRT station to IMH is Hougang Station (North-East Line). From there, you can take a bus or taxi to reach IMH.
  • By Bus: There are direct bus services that stop near IMH. You can check the local bus routes that service the area around Buangkok Green Medical Park, where IMH is located.
  • By Car or Taxi: If you’re driving or taking a taxi, input the address “10 Buangkok View, Singapore 539747” into your GPS or inform the taxi driver to take you to IMH at Buangkok Green Medical Park.
  • Walking: If you live nearby or enjoy walking, IMH is accessible on foot, especially if you’re coming from nearby neighbourhoods.

It’s always a good idea to check the current traffic situation and any MRT or bus service disruptions before starting your journey.

Please note that the directions provided are based on the latest updates and might have changed over time. Always use a real-time map service or the official IMH website for the most accurate and up-to-date directions.

Mental Health Checklist for Men - Sire - IMH Singapore

Where Else to Get Mental Health Help in Singapore?

Top 5 sources of help cited by Singaporeans for mental health include our neighbourhood GPs or family doctors, counsellors, polyclinic doctors, psychiatrists and religious or spiritual advisors.

1. GPs, family doctors and polyclinics

Our friendly neighbourhood GPs, family doctors and polyclinic doctors are probably the first treatment option that come to mind whenever we have a health concern.

GPs are able to prescribe medications such as antidepressants. However, many GPs, family doctors and polyclinics are restricted by short consultation time and long clinic queues especially with COVID-19 still lurking around in different forms.

These doctors can refer you to a mental health specialist after you visit them, but it might take several weeks if not months to get an appointment.

It is generally advised that CBT or talk therapy be the first approach when dealing with mental health concerns, and medications to be combined with CBT for the best outcomes.

2. National Care Hotline (free)

There is a free hotline that Singaporeans can access to seek mental health help.

The National Care Hotline (NCH) aims to provide emotional support and psychological first aid to people with mental health issues as well as marital and family-related matters.Call officers, including psychologists, social workers, and counselors, are trained to identify and attend to callers’ needs. They provide a listening ear, suggest coping strategies, and offer relevant information to help reduce immediate distress and anxieties.

Other than the National Care Hotline, the Singapore government also provides a list of online counselling services and even hotlines for Mandarin speakers providing emotional or psychological support.

3. Counsellors and psychologists

Counsellors and psychologists are often seen as the experts in talk therapy as they receive professional training for these purposes.

In Singapore, counsellors and psychologists are regulated by the Singapore Association for Counselling and Singapore Psychological Society. These bodies provide guidance on their professional and ethical conduct of their respective professions.

Counselling services vary in their costs.

4. Religious or Spiritual Advisors

They come in all forms in our multi-religious society. They may not be professionally trained for talk therapy but well sometimes all we need is just a listening ear and a community of support.

In Singapore, a study found that religiosity leads to higher levels of life satisfaction. This echoes what we know in global studies as well that actively religious people are more likely than their less religious peers to describe themselves as “very happy”

5. SIRE – a specialised men’s health clinic

Now, we all know Singapore can be stressful, right? The daily grind, the pressure, and everything else can make you stressed, especially if you’re a man. That’s where SIRE comes into play. SIRE is all about helping men in Singapore improve their mental health and boost their confidence.

Here at SIRE, we look into specific men’s health issues that society shy away from talking about.

Physical health and mental wellness play a big role in sexual issues and we are here to help.

Medications and professional counselling services specific to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, sex addiction, marriage counselling and sex therapy are available here.

We designed our mental health services to suit the needs of Singaporean men who need privacy, convenience and a connection with their counsellor.

How SIRE can help you embark on a journey to improved mental health?

Virtual consultations for your comfort and convenience

One of the biggest benefits of a virtual consultation is that you’ll be able to do it in the comfort of your own home.

It’s always a bit unsettling when you have to go to a clinic with new surroundings. Eliminating this barrier helps you get at ease in order to share your issues.

Male-specific counselling

The most important aspect that leads to a positive outcome during counselling involves a connection with your counsellor.

At SIRE, we have always focused on men and our counselling service is no different.

Our counsellors have a specific focus on the specific issues men face. For example, our counsellors can help you build sexual confidence with your partner, or improve your confidence related to your physical features.

We aim to create a healthier understanding of masculinity in Singapore so that you overcome the psychological barriers impeding you from performing at your best.

Psychological and physical assistance in house

Studies have shown that effective results are more commonly seen when medications are combined with psychological therapy.

At SIRE, we focus on close collaboration between doctors and counselling. If a doctor or counsellor feels you need physical or mental health assistance, we can refer you in-house for further help.

If you have concerns about sexual performance or relationship issues, SIRE, a licensed men’s health specialist, offers discreet online consultations. You can access these services from the comfort and privacy of your own space.

Book an appointment with us today.

Summary

The significance of mental health awareness is undeniable. The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Singapore has been at the forefront of advocating for mental well-being, seeking to create a compassionate society that understands the intricacies of mental health and champions those facing its challenges.

In a city that never sleeps, where success is often measured in the unrelenting pursuit of goals, SIRE whispers the message that it’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to prioritise your mental well-being.

Let’s embrace this new era in mental health awareness and support. Together, we can make a difference, one conversation, one step, and one resilient human being at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why are Singaporean men experiencing high levels of stress?

Stress among Singaporean men can be attributed to a variety of factors. Work pressures, financial concerns, family responsibilities, societal expectations, and the fast-paced urban lifestyle A.Q: How does stress affect men’s physical and mental health?

Chronic stress can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. It may lead to issues such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood swings, anxiety, and even contribute to more serious health conditions over time.

Q: What is IMH Singapore?

A: The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is the premier mental health institution in Singapore, dedicated to providing specialised care, training, and research for psychiatric conditions.

Q: What services does IMH offer?

IMH offers a comprehensive range of psychiatric, rehabilitative, and counselling services for children, adolescents and adults.

Q: Can Singaporean men find specialised support at IMH?

A: Absolutely! IMH offers specialised programs and support catered to the unique mental health challenges faced by men, ensuring they receive the care and understanding they need.

Q: What are the common signs and symptoms of stress?

Common signs of stress may include irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and feelings of overwhelm.

Q: How can men in Singapore manage and alleviate stress?

Men can manage stress through techniques like mindfulness and relaxation, supported by regular exercise and a balanced diet. Seeking social support from friends and considering professional help are important for stress management and mental well-being.

Q: Can seeking professional help, such as counselling or therapy, be beneficial for managing stress?

Yes, seeking professional help from counsellors or therapists can provide effective strategies for managing stress, developing coping mechanisms, and improving overall mental well-being.

Q: How can employers and workplaces support men in managing stress?

To alleviate workplace stress, employers can implement wellness programs, promote a supportive work environment, and encourage regular breaks. Additionally, providing resources for stress management is crucial to help employees, including men, effectively cope with the challenges of their job.

Q: Who can diagnose mental illness in Singapore?

In Singapore, psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialized training, having completed post-graduate clinical residency programs. This extensive training equips them with the skills needed to accurately diagnose and effectively treat various mental disorders.

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