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1st Quarter 2019

One in Seven People in Singapore Has Experienced a Mental Disorder in Their Lifetime

One in Seven People in Singapore Has Experienced a Mental Disorder in Their Lifetime

The results of the second Singapore Mental Health Study, released in December last year, found that one in seven people in Singapore has experienced a mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime. This is an increase from the first study which was done in 2010.

Spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the first and second nationwide mental health studies were funded by Temasek Foundation Innovates and MOH.

More than 6,000 Singaporeans, aged 18 years and above, were interviewed as part of the second study. The findings reveal that the top three mental health conditions in Singapore are major depressive disorder, alcohol abuse and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). One in 16 people has experienced depression, while one in 24 people experienced alcohol abuse and one in 28 people experienced OCD. Overall, the lifetime prevalence of all mental disorders increased, particularly for alcohol abuse and generalized anxiety disorder.

Within Singapore, up to three-quarters of people with a mental disorder did not seek any professional help, which is similar to the proportion of people who did not seek help in the previous study. Co-Principal Investigator and Director of IMH’s research division, Associate Professor Mythily Subramaniam shared that an inability to recognise symptoms of mental health conditions and concerns regarding the stigma associated with mental health conditions could be some reasons for this. She added that those who sought help for their condition however did so much sooner, compared to the previous study.

According to Professor Chong Siow Ann, Vice Chairman of the Medical Board (Research) in IMH and the Principal Investigator of this study, “This comprehensive study is one of the few worldwide that is a part of a deliberate effort to track the mental health status of a country over time. The wealth of information would provide knowledge and insights into common mental disorders in Singapore, the emerging trends and public health concerns, and the impact of measures which have been taken since the last Singapore Mental Health Study in 2010.”

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