A Comprehensive Guide to the Common Mental Health Disorders in Singapore

A Comprehensive Guide to the Common Mental Health Disorders in Singapore

Singapore stands out due to its vibrant culture, economic prosperity, and high standards of living. Yet, beneath the surface of this bustling city-state lies a pressing issue that often goes unnoticed – mental health. As the conversation around mental well-being gains traction, the role of psychiatrists in Singapore becomes increasingly vital. This article aims to shed light on the common mental health disorders in Singapore to foster awareness and understanding of this burgeoning problem.

Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health dsorders

In Singapore, the prevalence of mental health disorders is a growing concern, mirroring global trends that indicate an increase in mental health issues. In a 2023 study by Institut Public de Sondage d’Opinion Secteur (IPSOS), they found that over 46% of Singaporeans place mental health as the biggest health problem facing the country today. 

Similarly, a landmark study by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) revealed that 1 in 7 people in Singapore may be affected by a mental disorder in their lifetime. This finding underscores the pressing need for comprehensive mental health services and the critical role of psychiatrists in Singapore.

Moreover, the study highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health challenges among the population, with the stress of health fears, economic uncertainty, and social isolation contributing to the rise in cases. With this, the demand for mental health services has surged, with psychiatrists and mental health professionals working tirelessly to provide care and support to those in need.

Major Mental Health Disorders in Singapore

1. Depression

depressed person

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in Singapore. The MOH has reported that 1 out of 16 Singaporeans exhibit depressive symptoms in their lifetime. Unfortunately, this negatively impacts an individual’s quality of life.

Depression manifests in various ways, from prolonged sadness and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities to significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns. The condition not only affects adults but also teenagers and the elderly, indicating a wide-reaching issue across all age groups.

The pervasiveness of depression in the country can be attributed to the fact that Singapore is a high-stress society. Basically, the pressure to excel and the fear of failure take a toll on the mental well-being of people.

Unfortunately, despite the high prevalence of depression, a significant number of sufferers do not seek treatment. This reluctance is often due to stigma, lack of awareness, or misconceptions about the effectiveness of treatment.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders, characterized by excessive fear or anxiety, are among the most prevalent mental health conditions in Singapore. The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) revealed that the lifetime prevalence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) among Singaporeans is 8.4%, underscoring the widespread impact of anxiety disorders on the population. These disorders can manifest in various forms, including panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder, each affecting individuals in unique ways.

Similar to depression, anxiety disorders can be attributed to the pressures of academic performance, career progression, and societal expectations. Furthermore, the digital age has introduced new dimensions to anxiety, with the phenomenon of “social media anxiety” emerging as a concern. Basically, the constant comparison with others’ curated lives can contribute to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety among users.

 3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

obssessive compulsive person

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) stands out as a particularly challenging mental health condition, with Singapore reporting one of the highest lifetime prevalence rates globally at approximately 3%. Individuals with OCD experience persistent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions) that they feel compelled to perform, which can significantly interfere with daily life and functioning.

4. Stress-Related Disorders

Stress-related disorders, encompassing conditions such as adjustment disorder, are increasingly prevalent in Singapore’s fast-paced society. The pressures of work, education, and personal life can lead to psychological distress, manifesting as physical symptoms, anxiety, and mood disturbances.

In fact, the MOH has highlighted the impact of work-related stress on Singaporeans, with a significant portion of the working population reporting high levels of job stress. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified stress levels across the community, with concerns over health, financial stability, and social isolation contributing to a spike in stress-related issues.

Tackling the Stigma

Addressing the stigma associated with mental health disorders is a critical step towards a more inclusive and supportive society in Singapore. Despite the high prevalence of mental health conditions, many individuals hesitate to seek help due to fear of judgment or misunderstanding by peers, family, and even employers. This stigma can lead to isolation, worsening of symptoms, and a significant delay in receiving necessary treatment.

Efforts to combat mental health stigma have been ramped up in recent years. Campaigns like Beyond the Label by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) aim to change public perceptions of mental health, encouraging open conversations and understanding. These initiatives are crucial for breaking down barriers and fostering a more accepting environment for those struggling with mental health issues.

Interestingly, Influencers, celebrities, and public figures have begun sharing their personal experiences with mental health challenges, contributing to a gradual shift in public attitudes. These stories resonate with many, highlighting that mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of status or background.

Moving Forward

Mental health matters

The journey towards a mentally healthier Singapore requires collective action from all segments of society. It involves continuous education, increased accessibility to mental health services, and ongoing efforts to destigmatize mental health issues. The government, healthcare providers, communities, and individuals each have a role to play in shaping a supportive ecosystem for mental well-being.

One of the key strategies moving forward is enhancing the accessibility and affordability of mental health care. This includes expanding the network of psychiatrists and mental health professionals in Singapore, as well as integrating mental health services within primary healthcare settings to ensure early detection and intervention.

Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on preventive mental health care and the promotion of mental resilience from a young age. Schools are increasingly incorporating mental health education into their curricula, equipping students with coping strategies and knowledge about mental health. This early intervention approach aims to cultivate a generation that is more aware and proactive about their mental well-being.

Public-private partnerships are also pivotal in advancing mental health care in Singapore. Collaborations between the government, non-profit organizations, and the private sector can lead to innovative solutions and resources that address the unique mental health needs of the population.

As Singapore continues to navigate the challenges of mental health, the collective goal remains clear: to create a compassionate, understanding, and resilient society where everyone feels supported in their mental health journey.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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