25,000  mentally-ill  patients in
    S’pore, with 10% in institutions

  Channel News Asia
March 25, 2009

IS community rehabilitation for mentally-ill patients suited to our densely populated city state? Several MPs had questions regarding this approach in Parliament on Tuesday, March 24, particularly after one MP was set on fire, and another threatened by mentally unstable persons in January.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said community-based care for the mentally ill is an internationally-recommended approach, with good documented outcomes for patients. There is also a support structure in place for this form of rehabilitation.

He told the House that Singapore has about 25,000 patients with serious mental illness, mainly schizophrenia. Some 10 per cent of them are institutionalised.

Mr Khaw said: "I was quite concerned about recent incidents involving mentally—ill patients, because I think inevitably, it will push our work backwards on trying to change public behaviour and acceptance of the mentally ill.

"No doubt there will be some who are in acute difficulties and require professional help. But the vast majority are like you and me, they can carry on with their lives if we give them a chance." — CNA/ms