Mental health is an integral component of every individual’s overall state of health and well-being. It affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, and is thus a critical aspect of strengthening NHG’s River of Life framework. The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) supports individuals across various dimensions of mental health. It goes beyond treating the ill to keeping the well mentally healthy, and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.


At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) repurposed three wards in the hospital to better detect and prevent COVID-19 infection among patients. A Step-down Medical Ward was created for patients who needed to be transferred to the general wards after they were treated for acute medical conditions. Patients were cared for and observed in this ward for up to 72 hours to ensure they were COVID-19-free before they returned to their original wards.

In addition, an Enhanced Screening Ward was set up for patients at medium risk of COVID-19 infection — those who were admitted from nursing homes, other public hospitals or serving Stay-Home Notice (SHN). Patients who were COVID-19 positive and needed mental healthcare were placed in the Ward Isolation Facility, an environment optimised for the care of patients with mild symptoms. With this system in place, IMH was better equipped to ensure the safety of patients during the on-going pandemic.


On 10 April 2020, the National CARE Hotline was launched to offer psychological first aid to people who felt stressed and anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic. Associate Professor Lee Cheng, Clinical Director, Population Health, IMH, and Associate Professor Clare Yeo, Senior Principal Clinical Psychologist, IMH, were activated as Chief, CARE, and Head of CARE, Ministry of Health (MOH), respectively.

105 staff volunteers comprising clinical psychologists, medical social workers, case managers, counsellors, occupational therapists, and a nurse clinician, took on eight-hour shifts as Duty CARE Officers (DCOs).


IMH supported the nation’s fight against COVID-19 on the frontlines by deploying 48 Registered Nurses and 25 Medical Officers to the various medical posts at migrant worker dormitories, community isolation facilities (CIFs), and community care facilities (CCFs). The nurses helped with registration, triaging, dispensing medication, and performing swab procedures.


In June 2020, IMH Child Guidance Clinic’s Neurobehavioural Clinic (Autism Services) — with support from MOH and in collaboration with the National University Hospital (NUH) and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) — produced a Special Care Kit for individuals with special needs who have to go through COVID-19 procedures. The care kit included visual materials and an animated video, designed to help them cope better with the procedures of testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Caregivers and healthcare workers also used these materials to better communicate with, and manage these individuals. These materials were accessible through the websites of IMH, KKH, and NUH.


IMH nursing collaborated with Temasek Polytechnic via the Health Innovation Challenge to use gamification for code blue training of nurses. The first prototype of the application, released in May 2018, showed good results, with nurses reporting increased confidence and retention of learned content.

In 2020, the team was awarded the ALIVE Serious Game Grant of $15,000 to improve the game application together with the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. With technical support from Nanyang Polytechnic, the team redesigned the game in January 2021. The game was rolled out to all nurses during the Emergency Resuscitation training course in May 2021.


The Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WISE) study conducted in 2013, found a 10 per cent prevalence of dementia among those aged 60 years and above, and that caregivers of older adults with dementia were more likely to experience higher caregiver’s burden. In this regard, knowledge of dementia was shown to be a protective factor against caregiver’s distress. From January 2017 to December 2018, Dr Yuan Qi, Research Fellow at IMH Research Division, led a study to investigate the extent of dementia knowledge among caregivers in Singapore using the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale (DKAS). This enabled the team to identify knowledge gaps about dementia among caregivers that needed to be addressed. The other aim of the study was to identify how certain caregivers’ characteristics affected their knowledge about dementia.

Findings from the study suggested a need for knowledge of dementia to be improved among caregivers. Additionally, being a male caregiver and having a lower education were associated with poorer scores. Notably, duration of caregiving did not significantly predict better scores on any factors. The study was published in the Journal of Mental Health and Aging in March 2020.


IMH organised the 24th World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) 2020, which was held virtually in December 2020. The opening ceremony was graced by Guest of Honour President Halimah Yacob. The biennial event attracted 1,572 child and adolescent psychiatrists and Allied Health Professionals, from 85 countries. Associate Professor Daniel Fung, President of the IACAPAP and CEO of IMH, shared insights on developing children-centric mental health policies.


The Child Guidance Clinic (CGC) commemorated its 50th year with the publication of a graphic book which captured its 50-year journey. Titled The Stress Wars: How Many Psychiatrists Does It Take To Raise A Child? , the book was written by Associate Professor Daniel Fung, CEO, IMH, and Associate Professor Ong Say How, Chief, Department of Developmental Psychiatry, and illustrated by design students from Nanyang Polytechnic.

The history of child psychiatry in Singapore was also featured in the “Singapore Policy History Project” in collaboration with the National Archives of Singapore. It provided a glimpse into the early years of child mental health services in Singapore and the policies that shaped the CGC’s development through a curated collection of newspaper clippings, photographs, and government records.

“It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started and I am proud of our colleagues for their selfless service in the face of such a long-drawn adversity. Our goals in the last year are consistent with our aspirations for beyond 2020: recovery, hope, and independence for patients, wellness; resilience, and happiness for people of Singapore; and meaningful, rewarding and joyful work for staff and partners.” Associate Professor Daniel Fung, CEO, Institute of Mental Health