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07 Nov 2022

6th Jan 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Assoc Prof Walter Theseira

Nominated MP

Question No. 1547

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether there are any manpower development plans for mental health and allied professionals in the Social and Health Manpower Development Programme and Community Mental Health Masterplan and, if so, what is the progress of these plans; (b) what are the targets the Ministry has for (i) psychiatrist to population ratio (ii) clinical psychologist to population ratio and (iii) counsellor to population ratio; and (c) when does the Ministry expect to achieve these target ratios.

Written Answer

1        Local training programmes are available for psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors.  Under MOH’s Health Manpower Development Plan (HMDP), over the past 3 years, an average of 3 overseas experts from a variety of professions visited local healthcare institutions to advise and teach aspects of mental healthcare each year.   In addition, under the HMDP, an average of 13 local mental health professionals were sent to overseas centres to study and learn different models of care delivery each year.  A Skills Framework (SF) was established in January 2019 to guide the developmental pathways of psychologists, including clinical psychologists.  This framework for psychologists is administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).  MSF had also set up a Social Service SkillsFuture Tripartite Taskforce (STT) to drive, coordinate and implement tripartite collaborations for manpower development initiatives, including that for psychologists.

2        Currently, there are about 248[1] psychiatrists and 473[2] psychologists in Singapore.  This translates to 4.4 psychiatrists and 8.3[3] psychologists per 100k population.  Within the public health sector, the number of psychiatrists and psychologist increased by 8% to 182[4] and 7% to 171 respectively in the last 3 years.  MOH does not have specific numbers of counsellors practising in Singapore as many healthcare professionals and social workers provide counselling as part of their work.  Whilst there is no international consensus on the number or ratio of mental health professionals to population, the MOH will continue to monitor the numbers to ensure appropriate access and quality.

[1] Source: SMC 2018 Annual Report

[2] Source: Singapore Register of Psychologists, maintained by the Singapore Psychological Society

[3] As registration for practice is not compulsory for psychologists, actual numbers may be higher.

[4] Source: SMC 2018 Annual Report