IMH launches nationwide study to assess state of mental health among young people in Singapore

SINGAPORE: The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) has launched a nationwide study to identify specific issues, challenges and common psychological issues affecting young people in Singapore.

The National Youth Mental Health Study aims to determine the prevalence of major mental illnesses among young people in Singapore, the personal and social factors associated with these illnesses, and the extent of unmet treatment needs.

IMH researchers will also study how young people aged 15 to 35 experience major life transitions, such as moving through different levels of education to starting a career and starting a family, the institute said in a media release on Tuesday (September 27). .

“This is to assess mental health implications and identify risk and protective factors for adverse mental health outcomes that are unique to these stages,” IMH said.

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Around 2,600 people between the ages of 15 and 35 will be interviewed for the study.

Respondents complete a series of questionnaires that collect information about their socio-demographic background and information related to mental health, feelings, school or work experiences, social support, and lifestyle behaviors.

The study will focus on a wide range of “youth-centric aspects and behaviors” associated with mental health and well-being, such as bullying, self-harm, alcohol use, smoking, social media use, smartphone addiction, burnout, academic stress, insomnia, resilience, body image and self-esteem.

Opinions are also collected on how satisfied young people are with their living environment, such as trust in the government, feeling safe in their neighborhood and social integration.

Data collection for the study will begin in October and will last until June next year. The data is being analyzed and the results should be available by the end of 2024, IMH said.

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The Singapore Mental Health Study in 2010 and 2016 largely focused on the adult population in Singapore.

The results of both studies showed that young people aged 18 to 34 had the highest percentage of mental disorders and were more prone to developing mood and anxiety disorders, said Dr. Mythily Subramaniam, Vice Chair of the Research Medical Committee at IMH.

About 21.6 percent of youth in Singapore have also experienced at least one mental illness, she added.

The Adolescent Mental Health Study gives researchers an opportunity to intervene early to support people and design appropriate mental health interventions.

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“This study will also allow us to better understand how young people seek help that may differ from the general population in order to better allocate relevant resources,” said Dr. mythily.

“As this is the first time we are conducting a study of this scale in this population, the data will also serve as a basis for tracking future trends and changes in adolescent mental health in Singapore.”

The study is funded by the Ministry of Health and supervised by Dr. Swapna Verma, Chair of the Medical Committee, and Dr. Mythily headed. They will work with national adolescent mental health counseling and assessment service CHAT and the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.