A new taskforce named Project Dawn has been set up to enhance the mental health care support for migrant workers in Singapore. 

According to a press release by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the taskforce comprises representatives from MOM, Government psychologists, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) and HealthServe.

Project Dawn has established a framework to build a support ecosystem that will improve mental health awareness among migrant workers and provide better access to care services. At the core of the framework is a seven-point strategy which consists of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.

Primary prevention

  • Mental and social wellness awareness and promotion

Secondary prevention

  • Identification of at-risk patients and risk factors
  • Screening for mental health issues
  • Surveillance for mental and emotional distress
  • Counselling, and training of para-counsellors

Tertiary prevention

  • Timely escalation of care
  • Provision of post-intervention support

The seven-point strategy will be implemented in three overlapping phases over the next two years.

Phase 1: Raising awareness and supporting good mental health practices

In this phase, the focus would be on promoting good mental health and stress management practices among migrant workers in culturally appropriate ways. 

In line with that, mental health education will be included in the settling-in-programme (SIP) for migrant workers from 2021. Culturally adapted mental health resources will also be developed for migrant workers and made available on tech-enabled platforms such as FWMOMCare App and websites.

Phase 2: Strengthening care system to improve migrant workers’ access to mental health services

In the second phase, efforts will be focused on improving migrant workers' access to mental health services. 

Frontline officers, dormitory operators, employers and NGOs will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to better detect at-risk workers early and refer them to appropriate care. 

MOM has begun training the Forward Assurance and Support Team (FAST) officers in psychological first aid and will extend similar training to all regional medical centres. Counselling and para-counselling services would also be strengthened in terms of capacity and capabilities.

Phase 3: Enhancing integration and support in the community

This last phase focuses on improving the range and level of support of services for migrant workers who may need follow-up care in the community.  Besides medical support, case management at the community level will also be an important area to enhance under this thrust.

The priority is to enable appropriate triaging and escalation of cases requiring specialist intervention to our healthcare partners such as IMH.

Beyond case escalation, it is vital that discharged migrant workers continue to receive care and support for their recovery.

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