C.M.J.GOH1, S. SHAHWAN1, G.T.H. TAN1, W.J. ONG1, M. SUBRAMANIAM1
Institute of Mental Health1
Healthcare professionals who provide treatment and care for individuals with mental illness are well-situated to provide nuanced insights and concerns regarding mental healthcare services.
17 mental health professionals (MHP) were engaged in semi-structured interviews. They were recruited from various healthcare organizations and a local university. Interviews followed a topic guide that explored stigma in Singapore. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis. Sociodemographic information was also collected.
Three major themes that reflect concerns about local healthcare systems and its impact on mental health treatment were uncovered: 1) Employment in Healthcare, 2) Medical History Tracking, and 3) Working in Silos. The first theme discussed policies such as the declaration of history of mental health conditions when hiring healthcare professionals which were seen as discriminatory and inappropriate. The second theme included concerns related to the belief by those with mental illnesses that their records were accessible by potential employers or insurance companies which contributed to the treatment gap. Finally, the last theme expounded on problems that arise from working in silos across healthcare and social care. For instance, certain social care cases may require the expertise of MHP, but these social sectors typically face a shortage of MHP. Corollary to this also is the tendency for social care to place greater emphasis on physical health over mental health conditions, as well as the exclusiveness of centralized care for mental illness.
Identifying these systemic issues could inform policymakers and/or influencers during the development of new policies and practices.