New master’s programme to train mental health professionals in Singapore

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SINGAPORE - To meet the growing demand for mental health care here, a new master’s programme on clinical mental health is set to commence in January 2025.

Offered by the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the NUHS Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre, the Master of Clinical Mental Health and Psychotherapy programme is set to fill a training gap for mental health professionals.

Dr Pearlene Ng, deputy programme director and education director of psychology of the NUHS Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre, said the programme is set to help mental health practitioners support patients who have mild to moderate symptoms of mental health conditions – or those who fall in Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the tiered care model.

The tiered care model was announced in October 2023, and it organises Singapore’s mental health services and support measures according to an individual’s needs.

There are four levels – ranging from mental health promotion, self-help and peer support at Tier 1, to the most intensive level of care in hospitals and specialist clinics at Tier 4.

Individuals in Tier 2 have mild symptoms and have some difficulties coping, while those in Tier 3 have moderate symptoms and have more difficulties coping.

Announcing the programme at a mental wellness exhibition at Alexandra Hospital on March 21, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the programme brings in leading industry partners, such as social service agencies and healthcare providers, to provide supervised clinical placements and training.

“Students will not only be exposed to general counselling and psychotherapy, but also systemic and family therapy, to allow them to gain a better understanding of how different factors impact mental health,” said Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration.

Dr Ng explained that the current master’s programmes offered here are either in clinical psychology, which trains professionals to deal with those with severe conditions, or counselling, which equips practitioners to help those with interpersonal or relationship problems.

“In order to meet growing mental health needs, Singapore would need to train mental health practitioners like counsellors or psychotherapists. Not everyone would need to see a psychologist at Tier 4 level,” she said.

Students will also learn stress, anxiety and mood management across different age seg...

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