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Enhancing mental wellness in the community

Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) Health Wellness Programme (HWP) brings mental healthcare for patients closer to home.


Thomas had a difficult childhood. He was bullied and ostracised by his classmates in primary school. This caused him to develop low self-esteem and a fear of rejection. In secondary school, a series of miscommunications with a group of friends caused him to develop strong feelings of self-blame and shame. Despite his struggles, Thomas initially did not seek help as he was concerned that his family would think negatively of him if he was diagnosed with a mental illness.

Over time, Thomas felt increasingly isolated and lonely. His mood became more depressed and irritable. He was frequently anxious and experienced panic attacks. He lost interest in his hobbies, and had difficulty sleeping and concentrating on his studies. He also started feeling worthless and thought of ending his life.

Facing mounting emotional distress, Thomas sought help from his regular general practitioner (GP), who recognised his need for early specialist mental health interventions. Thomas’ GP, who is part of CGH’s GP Mental Health Network, referred him to see a psychiatrist under the HWP’s fast-track clinical service. Within a week, Thomas had his consultation at CGH’s Psychological Medicine Centre.

After Thomas shared his problems and underwent a comprehensive clinical assessment, he was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (clinical depression). This is a condition that is caused by a combination of factors including biochemical imbalances in the brain and psychosocial factors such as stressful life events. Thomas was prescribed an antidepressant medication and referred to a community mental health intervention team (COMIT) near his home to see a counsellor for psychotherapy.

After three months of treatment, Thomas’ mood and anxiety improved significantly. Thomas and his parents were appreciative of the holistic treatment approach used to treat his condition, which combined medications and psychotherapy to equip him with the skills to cope better with stress and bolster his self-esteem. They also appreciated the convenience of receiving care in the community.

CGH’s Health Wellness Programme

▶▶▶ Provides fast-track clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for persons with mental health conditions.

▶▶▶ Develops capabilities of community partners through training and professional support, equipping them to provide quality mental healthcare in the community.

▶▶▶ Provides clinical leadership in supporting persons with mental illnesses in their recovery journey and developing communities of care to promote mental wellness in the community.

Partnering community care providers to support mental wellness

The HWP is a CGH-led community mental health programme that started in 2013. It initially focused on bringing care to the community by delivering psychological interventions to patients referred by GPs in the eastern region of Singapore. This initiative sought to bridge a gap in access to subsidised mental healthcare for patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions outside the hospital.

As the mental health landscape in Singapore evolved, various social service agencies started offering psychological interventions for mental illnesses. The HWP evolved to take on a leading role in training, equipping and supporting partner organisations in delivering mental health interventions in the community. Through regular workshops and other training initiatives, the HWP team shares its expertise in treating a broad range of mental health conditions with over 100 community partners including GPs, polyclinics, COMITs, family service centres and other social service agencies.

For their exemplary contributions to healthcare leadership and administration, patient care, education and research, the CGH HWP team won the SingHealth Excellence Awards 2023 Distinguished Team Award.

“CGH’s HWP collaborates with a host of stakeholders to enhance mental healthcare in the community. We believe that through empowering and working with community partners to provide our patients with quality mental healthcare, we can better meet our patients’ needs and support them in their recovery journey. We feel most gratified whenever we see our patients overcome their illnesses and go on to lead fulfilling lives once again.”

– CGH Health Wellness Programme team

Since 2020, CGH has delivered over 3,000 hours of training to its partners under the HWP, empowering them to help more people in the community through regular needs-based clinical skills training workshops and providing clinical liaison support. This has enhanced the GPs’ skills and confidence in diagnosing and treating milder mental health conditions in the community. To foster greater awareness about mental health conditions and their treatments in the community, the HWP team also regularly shares on mental health topics at various public forums such as grassroots events, schools and religious organisations.

A pilot study conducted by the CGH HWP team found that the programme improved outcomes for patients with mild to moderate mental health conditions.

In line with the Healthier SG initiative in creating a community of care, the care of a patient under the HWP is shared between CGH’s team of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counsellors and the hospital’s network of community partners where appropriate. The HWP team liaises closely with its community partners throughout the patient’s recovery journey. When the need arises, the HWP team provides inputs on a patient’s care plan to ensure that treatment proceeds smoothly and that the patient’s clinical needs are met holistically. The HWP also provides fast-track clinical services for more severely unwell patients who require early specialist treatment in the hospital setting, thus ensuring timely access to specialist care.

Enhancing Mental Wellness in the Community