Kopi with MP: Wan Rizal and Yip Hon Weng work for more accessible mental health support

27/10/2023

“Don’t stigmatise people with mental health issues,” MP Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang SMC) states plainly when discussing mental health in Singapore during this Kopi with MP episode. 

His conversation partner, MP Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC), nods. 

“Judge less, help more,” he says. 

“We need to fill up whatever gaps we can. Especially community inputs; the feedback. And of course from us in Parliament to raise this,” MP Wan Rizal adds.  

Mental health is still a tricky — and judgement-laced — subject locally. There is a general stigma against it; young people can have difficulty finding help while older folk may simply shut themselves off to even discussing it. These are a basis for a cycle of self-blame and worsening feelings.     

So here, MPs Yip and Wan Rizal’s all-around advocacy for mental health goes towards breaking this vicious wheel. 

The hope? A future Singapore where people are kinder to each other, with the right mental health help accessible to everyone who needs it. 

Mental health support for residents

It is a big, long-term ambition. Mindsets simply do not change quickly.  

As MPs Wan Rizal and Yip work to get Singapore there, they have two everyday tips for taking care of mental health: Keep the body moving and give yourself time to make sense of life’s big and small events. 

“I do go for really long walks now. The walks — five to six kilometres — give you the time and space to really reflect,” shared MP Wan Rizal, who now also journals and listens to podcasts. 

“I would run and have a time where my mind is free from distractions and think through issues, which is really great for my mental health,” said MP Yip. 

Plus, they make sure that their residents can access mental health support. MP Yip’s ward has a dedicated Community Resource, Engagement & Support Team (CREST) specially for seniors. MP Wan Rizal’s ward has an inter-agency network of volunteers which respond to residents in distress, and which upskill other care providers.   

“We actually go through this issue and see how we can help them from different perspectives and angles,” said MP Wan Rizal about the collaborative help given. 

Mental health accessibility throughout Singapore

Meanwhile, on a more macro scale, Singaporeans can rely on these two MPs regularly speaking up in Parliament for fine-tuning — or in some cases outright improving — mental health policies. 

There are MP Wan Rizal’s calls to make sure that a gamut of different Singaporeans — including students, educators, mothers and doctors — get access to mental health resources, for example. 

There is also MP Yip’s question on whether loneliness in seniors is recognised as a public health challenge and his overall stance that a holistic “360 view” is needed when caring for this silver generation; their mental health matters too, he told Parliament earlier this year. 

The duo are additionally part of an upcoming Motion to “upsize” (as MP Wan Rizal says) the recently-announced National Mental Health and Well-being Strategy. They and other members of the Party want to secure accessible mental health support for Singaporeans going forward. 

This is work which indeed paves the way for a kinder country. It is for a place where Singaporeans can unburden their minds and rest easier, where support — not stigma — awaits.