Mental Illness in Singapore

Posted: Jan 18, 2010 by NUS SSWS in Labels:

About Mental Illness
Mental illness is not a single disease but consists of many different types of diseases. It includes many kinds of mental and emotional disorders that differ in causes, symptoms and treatment. The disease causes mild to severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and behaviour resulting in an inability to cope with life's ordinary demands and routine. Mental disorders vary from mild, temporary stress-related disorders to severe and prolonged disorders. About 16 % of the people in Singapore suffer from minor mental disorders.

Two main groups of Mental Illness
Psychotic illness (major mental illness)
e.g. schizophrenia, manic depressive psychosis and delusional disorder.

People with psychotic illness lose touch with reality and perceive the world differently from others. They may develop delusions i.e. false beliefs of grandeur and persecution and experience hallucinations. They may see, hear, smell, taste and feel things, which are not there. They may be depressed or elated out of proportion to their life circumstances

Non-psychotic illness (minor mental illness)
e.g. anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorder.

The symptoms of the non-psychotic illness are exaggerated forms of normal types of behaviour and feelings. People with non-psychotic illness may feel uncontrollable anxiety, tension, fear and depression. These feelings can cause considerable personal distress resulting in difficulties coping with daily activities.
Causes of Mental Illness
1. Environmental and social life situations
  • relationships
  • stress/crisis
  • housing conditions
2. Biological
  • genetic make-up
  • temperament
  • physical constitution
3. Physical causes
  • brain damage
  • drugs e.g. LSD
  • infection of the brain
Symptoms of Mental Illness
Some symptoms of Mental Illness include:
  • Confused and unrealistic thinking
  • Talking to himself or herself, laughs or cries without good reason
  • Prolonged sadness and irritability
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical complaints
Common Misconceptions about Mental Illness
Myth: A person who has been mentally ill can never be “normal”.
Fact: There are many people who have experienced a psychiatric illness and are living successful, rewarding lives. Others may have to take medication at times or permanently, but cope well with support.
Myth: People with mental illness are unpredictable.
Fact: When their illness is in an active phase, they can be impulsive and not their usual self; but once recovered, their behaviour becomes more consistent.
Myth: Mentally ill people are dangerous and violent.
Fact: Most of them are not dangerous or violent. Many lack concentration, motivation and the ability to organise. Rare cases of violence occur only when they are seriously ill. When stable, they are no more violent than the average person.
Myth: A hospitalised mentally ill person mixing with others is more likely to get worse than better.
Fact: Mental illness is not contagious, nor can it be transmitted through social contact.

Myth: Psychiatric treatment is likely to cause brain damage as evidenced by the patient's robotic-like expression.

Fact: Robotic-like expression is more a sign of illness than an effect of treatment.

Myth: If a person can talk sensibly and has an intact memory, then the person is not mentally ill.

Fact: There are numerous types of mental illness and many forms do not affect one's memory or ability to speak appropriately.



  1. Indeed! mental illness has a lot of cause and not always hereditary. A mental health professional can help a patient learn coping techniques to deal with the illness effectively. Therapy may also be helpful with recognizing the things that may be contributing to the depressing feelings and discovering new behaviors to avoid these triggers.