The Health Promotion Board launches a free depression screening programme for residents within the community
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Ang Mo Kio-Hougang Citizens’ Consultative Committee is reaching out and making it easier for senior citizens to assess their state of mental health by bringing the professionals to their door-step through the launch of the Positive Wellbeing bus.
In Singapore, the National Mental Health Survey conducted in 2004, reported a prevalence of depression of 5.5% among seniors. In the survey, it was also found that about one in 10 elderly would experience some symptoms of depression that would impact negatively on the quality of their lives. Thus, this community initiative aims to help seniors gain a better understanding of their own state of mental health and encourage seniors to seek help early, if needed.
Symptoms of poor mental health such as the loss of interest and feeling worthless, are more likely to go undetected, especially if the elderly are already battling other chronic medical conditions. They may be less aware of, or resistant, to talking about their mental health. If the warning signs are left unchecked for a period of time, it could lead to depression. That is why HPB has activated this initiative to bring early detection and support to the elderly.
Details of the Positive Wellbeing Bus
On-board the Positive Wellbeing Bus, Singapore residents aged 50 and above will complete a short questionnaire (the Geriatric Depression Scale) to assess their risk of depression. Those found to be at risk of depression are encouraged to see a community counsellor on-site.
HPB has partnered counsellors from Singapore Action Group of Elders (SAGE), Shan You Counselling Centres, Silver Ribbon (Singapore), Fei Yue Community Services and Care Corner Services. The severely depressed will be referred to undertake further consultation at a nearby polyclinic, or make an appointment with the psychiatrist on-site. Seniors who are screened to be well will be encouraged to sign up for HPB’s Nurture Your Mind series of workshops held at community clubs.
The first run of the Positive Wellbeing Bus will be situated outside Hougang Sports Hall for six days from 23 to 29 July. The bus will then rove to five other community locations, aiming to reach out to 3,000 seniors by September 2011, for this holistic ground-up partnership among the different sectors.