IMH to run nationwide study to assess mental health of youths in Singapore

The three-year study will involve interviews with 2,600 youths.

Sherlyn Sim

Considers knowing how to use a rice cooker an achievement.

Published: 28 September 2022, 4:55 PM

A nationwide study to assess the state of mental health among youth in Singapore was announced by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Sep 27. Titled the National Youth Mental Health Study (NYMHS), the study is funded by the Ministry of Health and will last for three years.

Done in collaboration with the national youth mental health outreach and assessment service CHAT, and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, the study will investigate a range of factors affecting those aged 15 to 35 in Singapore. 

The study aims to establish the prevalence of certain mental health conditions among youth and identify the personal and social factors associated with these conditions, as well as the level of unmet treatment needs. 

According to findings from the previous Singapore Mental Health Study in 2010 and 2016, most mental disorders occur during teenage to early adulthood years, with those aged 18 to 34 years having the highest proportion of mental disorders, and being more vulnerable to developing mood and anxiety disorders.

Noting how about one in five youths have experienced at least one mental health condition, Dr Mythily Subramaniam, who is one of the co-principal investigators in the study, said: “We think it is important to do a more comprehensive, in-depth study to identify specific issues, challenges and common psychological problems that affect young people today.”

About 2,600 youths will be interviewed for the study between October 2022 and June 2023. Information on the respondents’ socio-demographic background, mental health, feelings, experiences in the school or workplace, social support, and lifestyle behaviours will be collected.

The NYMHS will also examine the impact of major life transitions, such as graduation or taking up a first job, on youths’ mental health. It hopes to identify risk and protective factors that may contribute to changes in mental health during these periods.

Co-principal investigator Dr Swapna Verma noted that on top of these transitions, youths now have the added stress of dealing with global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, wars and climate change.

She said: “With the surge in psychosocial challenges faced by today’s youth, there is a need to identify immediate priorities and take appropriate steps to improve their mental well-being.”

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