Psychologists call for regulation, more understanding of their role in mental health

2 weeks ago 56

SINGAPORE - Some psychologists are calling for better regulation and recognition of their profession amid plans to increase the number of psychologists in the public sector as part of the national push for better mental health.

This comes after some private psychologists expressed unhappiness that they cannot use the word “treatment” and have to make clear they are not medical doctors in advertisements as part of a healthcare Act implemented in 2023.

A regulatory framework would raise the standards and safeguards of the profession, as it would include a professional body to which they would be accountable, said psychologists and observers, including the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS).

It would also be a more positive move than recently updated rules under the Healthcare Services Act (HCSA) to forbid psychologists who perform healthcare services from using the word “treatment” in advertisements, in which they also have to make clear that they are not medical doctors, said psychologists The Straits Times spoke to.

“Purporting to treat” refers to ‘claims that the services offered can treat any ailment, disease, injury, infirmity or condition affecting the human body’, according to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) latest list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the HCSA, which was updated on Jan 25.  

Those who have a PhD or doctorate must have a disclaimer in their advertising to say their “Dr” title is not a medical or dental qualification. 

These rules, which took effect in June 2023, are aimed at better regulating such services and providing greater transparency, so that the public would not be misled by healthcare service advertising.

The SPS sent e-mail circulars on the changes, the latest in January 2024, which have since caused some displeasure among its members.

The society has 700 registered psychologists governed by its code of professional ethics. Of these, 174 ho...

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