More support for migrant worker mental health, expanded community visits: Tan See Leng, Politics News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Access to mental health support for migrant workers is being expanded on several fronts, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told parliament on Tuesday (November 2nd).

For example, all new members of the Advanced Insurance and Support (Fast) team undergo basic mental health and psychological first aid training, with 500 agents trained to date.

Rapid teams are Ministry of Manpower (MOM) agents deployed to dormitories to help manage Covid-19 in these neighborhoods.

MOM is also working with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to make counseling and para-counseling more accessible, while webinars have been organized for dormitory operators and employers on mental health issues to raise awareness, a he added.

A pathway to scale up care for severe cases has also been developed with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to ensure these workers receive timely care, he added.

Dr Tan was responding to questions from Mr Edward Chia (Hollande-Bukit Timah GRC) on the mental well-being of migrant workers living in dormitories here, including the number of people seeking mental health care or having to stop to work because of serious mental health problems. concerns.

Between January and September 2021, 98 work permit holders were admitted to the OHM, Dr Tan said.

That’s lower than the number admitted at the same time last year, but higher than the number in 2019, he noted.

Besides NGOs and dormitory operators, MOM is also working with employers and workers themselves through the Project Dawn task force, which was set up last November to strengthen support for worker mental health. migrants.

This includes training peer support leaders, with 600 workers to be trained by the end of 2022.

Dr Tan also addressed the issue of dorm residents not being able to leave their dorms due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Any relaxation of these restrictions must be done in a careful and calibrated manner in order to avoid adding additional stress to Singapore’s healthcare system.

Between January and September 2021, 98 work permit holders were admitted to the IMH. PHOTO: ST FILE

Since August last year, workers have been allowed to visit recreation centers, and the frequency of visits to these centers has recently been increased from one to three times a week, he said.

MOM also removed the requirement for vaccinated workers to be tested prior to such visits.

Last weekend, MOM also increased the cap on the number of vaccinated workers allowed to visit community areas from 500 to 3,000, and included the areas of Geylang Serai and Joo Chiat, he said.

The duration of visits was also extended to eight hours, from six hours per week. Pilot expansion began on October 30.

Opposition Leader Pritam Singh asked how MOM determined the ceiling on the number of visits to the community, because understanding the reasoning behind the current figure of 3,000 would give an idea of ​​when a new opening may take place.

Dr Tan said each step towards easing movement restrictions for workers required a lot of logistical arrangements and efforts to ensure medical safety, including linking with places of worship that workers wanted to visit. and the organization of testing and transportation for them.

He added: “I hope that in the weeks and months to come as we move to this new normal, the plan is not to restrict but to open up even more, but at this particular time because we Just started the 3,000 just three days ago, we’re going to maintain it and monitor it for a while. “

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