L.G.CHAN1, Z.S.GOH2, J.LAI3, E.S.LEE4, W.S.W.SOON4, A.TOH5, J.C.K.LEE6, K.GRIVA2
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, Nanyang Technological University2, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)3, NHG Polyclinics4, Private clinic5, Institute of Mental Health6
Mental health and psychosocial services in Singapore experienced significant disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To inform the development of a mental health response plan in the event of future outbreaks, this study sought to document the responses of mental health and social service providers and users during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health and social service organizations were invited to fill an online questionnaire addressing the changes to service delivery. Separately, in-depth interviews about service changes and its impacts were conducted with individual service providers and users. The questionnaire responses were analysed using descriptive statistics while the qualitative interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.
The questionnaire was completed by N=31 representatives from restructured hospitals, community health, and social service sectors, while the in-depth interviews involved N=16 service providers and N=3 users. An overall increase in service usage and greater severity of cases were reported. Restructured hospitals and social service agencies representatives reported more relapses and hospitalisations, while primary health partners reported more domestic violence. The main themes from the in-depth interviews were: service delivery digitalisation; institutional responses to restrictions; psychosocial resources in response to measures; and resilience.
COVID-19 measures led to the restructuring of mental health and social services. Findings suggest that providers may not be adequately equipped to manage the increase in service usage, and the closure of facilities had inadvertently caused negative psychological impacts to its users. Special attention should also be given to the vulnerable groups who are socially isolated and not yet IT-enabled.