Dealing with Schizophrenia in Singapore: Symptoms, Treatments & Financing Available (2023)
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that often goes misunderstood, creating a lonely experience for sufferers. In Singapore, many individuals might suffer from schizophrenia without even knowing it.
While schizophrenia can be difficult to diagnose and treat, it is important to learn more about this condition to provide support networks to those suffering from schizophrenia to help them cope with their illness on a daily basis. Financing treatment options can be challenging but there are resources available aimed at making treatment accessible to everyone who needs it.
It's important to stay informed and take the matter seriously if you think you or someone around you may be suffering from schizophrenia in Singapore - get to know key insights on schizophrenia, ranging from what it is, to what treatments are available and how they can be financed.
How Common Is Schizophrenia In Singapore?
The release of the Singapore Mental Health Study, conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Nanyang Technological University, has revealed a lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders of 2.3% within the population.
Of this percentage, 0.86% (or 1 in 116 persons) had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at some point in their lives, making schizophrenia the most common among all psychotic disorders in Singapore.
These statistics on schizophrenia in Singapore are an important finding and marks the first nationwide study to examine the prevalence of psychotic disorders and their implications for those living in our country aged 18 years and above. It reflects a need for more mental health resources and awareness surrounding schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses within our population and communities.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a serious and sometimes disabling brain disorder that significantly inhibits one’s ability to think, feel, and relate to others. Despite popular belief, schizophrenia is not a “split personality” disorder but rather a condition of fragmented mental processes that causes those suffering from it to interpret reality irregularly.
Effects of schizophrenia are wide-ranging and can include auditory or visual hallucinations, delusions, poor emotional responses that interfere with one's ability to work or socialise, and issues forming thoughts into logical language among others. Sufferers often experience deterioration in their daily functioning and in their interpersonal relationships.
Schizophrenia usually starts during adolescence or young adulthood and affects both genders equally. Unfortunately, those affected may go through months of struggling with the condition before seeking professional help due to the stigma around mental health issues. However, the sooner this condition is detected and managed effectively with medical support in Singapore, the better the chances of managing the symptoms.
Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia often presents both positive and negative symptoms, which can either be an exaggeration or a deficiency of normal mental functions. Positive symptoms are an amplification of functions that are typically present, whereas negative symptoms refer to a lack of a function that is usually present.
There are positive symptoms such as:
- Hallucinations (encountering smells, voices or tastes that others do not experience)
- Delusions (having feelings of persecution or being controlled)
- Bizarre or disorganised behaviour
Meanwhile, negative symptoms of schizophrenia comprise of:
- An inability to express yourself well through speech
- Social withdrawal
- A lack of emotion, whether positive or negative
- A lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern for things around you
- Finding it hard to pay attention or focus
- A lack of motivation and drive
Treatment For Schizophrenia In Singapore
Schizophrenia can be an incapacitating mental health condition that affects the sufferer's ability to think clearly and it can be difficult for families to understand and provide adequate help due to the lack of knowledge. Without proper treatment, people with this condition in Singapore may be at higher risk of suicide, aggression and drug abuse.
It is therefore important for anyone affected by schizophrenia or for those living with individuals suffering from it to seek professional help early. Early detection will offer greatly improved chances at managing the symptoms.
In Singapore, treatment most commonly entails a combination of medication, psychotherapy and rehabilitation in order to manage symptoms. Such treatment helps to reduce depression, suicidal thoughts and cognitive impairments, while providing necessary emotional support in order to ensure overall well-being. It is important that the person suffering from Schizophrenia has access to an empathetic and understanding medical professional who will take into account their unique needs and offer guidance for an improved quality of life.
Medication has been shown to be an effective tactic in helping to normalise any abnormal biochemical balances in the brain that may be causing the illness. Antipsychotic or neuroleptic medication helps to reduce or eliminate hallucinations, delusions, and thinking problems that are associated with schizophrenia - allowing patients to manage their symptoms and maintain stability over time. This type of medication is especially important as it also minimises the risk of relapse, offering peace of mind as individuals take control of their mental health journey. At public medical institutions and private hospitals or clinics in Singapore, medication can range from $30 - $100.
Psychotherapy is centred around helping the person make sense of their illness and explore how it impacts aspects of their life such as self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Depending on the individual’s needs, psychotherapy can occur either one-on-one or in a group setting and can also involve dealing with any issues around medication they might have or denial of the illness. It works to aid sufferers of schizophrenia in overcoming the hardships associated with this condition and serves as a place to gain understanding and develop coping strategies. In public medical institutions in Singapore, therapy can range from being free to $182 per session. On the other hand, it can cost between $180 - $200 at private hospitals or clinics.
Rehabilitation and counselling can be powerful tools for individuals with schizophrenia to thrive in Singapore. As people with this illness often struggle with managing their daily routines, social skills training can help in restoring their ability to interact with others comfortably. Whether it is done in individual, family or group settings, this type of therapy encourages the development of coping strategies that empower the schizophrenia patient to live more meaningfully. From improving self-image and communication to becoming capable of pursuing financial independence, rehabilitation and counselling techniques have proven results that are only made successful when these activities are supplemented by necessary support from family and loved ones. The average costs of counselling and rehabilitation can range from $60 - $200 per session.
Financing Schizophrenia Treatment In Singapore
1. Community Health Assist Scheme Subsidies
If you are a Singaporean with schizophrenia,, help is available in the form of subsidies from the Chronic Diseases Management Programme (CDMP+). As a holder of a Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) card, you can receive subsidies which vary depending on the type of card being held. This could help to alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with managing schizophrenia in Singapore.
Singaporeans on public assistance can access full subsidies for schizophrenia treatment. They just have to show their public assistance card and their NRIC at CHAS clinics.
However, do note that subsidies for schizophrenia are only available at specific CHAS clinics. You may call the CHAS hotline for more information at 1800-275-2427 (1800-ASK-CHAS).
2. Medishield Life
MediShield Life is a basic insurance plan for all Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. In Singapore, MediShield Life provides support to individuals with schizophrenia - offering up to $160 per day for inpatient psychiatric treatment, up to a maximum of 60 days in a policy year.
Schizophrenia treatments in Singapore are now Medisave claimable under the CDMP, making it affordable for those suffering from this mental condition. Patients can withdraw up to $500 from their Medisave per year for schizophrenia treatment and those aged 60 and above may withdraw up to an additional $200, bringing the total to $700 yearly. Furthermore, patients that require hospitalisation will have their charges covered by Medishield Life, with an allowance of up to $160 per day capped at $5,000 a year or use their Medisave too.
The government has set up MediFund as an endowment fund to provide financial relief for those facing difficulties when it comes to paying their medical bills. To be eligible, individuals must be Singaporean citizens, have received treatment from a MediFund-approved institution, have been receiving subsidies for healthcare costs and still face difficulty with paying additional bills after using MediSave, MediShield and cash. This safety net is aimed at helping all patients in Singapore, including those suffering from schizophrenia, who are unable to cover all their expenses due to financial distress.
5. Income’s Star Secure Pro
For peace of mind that lasts your whole life, look no further than Income's Star Secure Pro. This comprehensive whole life insurance plan offers unparalleled protection against death, total and permanent disability, as well as terminal illness. Star Secure Pro1 also provides coverage for Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, as well as Tourette Syndrome with the Early Life Accelerator rider add-on.
Premium payments are regular and easy to manage, and you will not need to pay for premiums for up to 6 months if you are retrenched2 and unable to find employment for 3 months in a row in Singapore. With Star Secure Pro, you can rest assured that your family will be taken care of if ever an unexpected tragedy occurs.
Have A Peace Of Mind With Income Insurance
Mental illness can be a difficult road to travel, and schizophrenia is no exception. Income Insurance’s Star Secure Pro offers excellent coverage1 for this condition with the Early Life Accelerator rider that allows you to get back on track in your life.
With the coverage1 provided by Star Secure Pro, you can gain access to medical specialists in Singapore that focus solely on treating mental health issues. In addition, the cost of medication and other treatments will be taken into account by Income so that financial worries don’t become an additional burden for those fighting this illness.
1 With Early Life Accelerator rider. Coverage before age 75 except for Tourette syndrome before age 21. Income will pay no more than $30,000 for the same condition for each insured. Policy T&Cs apply.
2 You must have paid at least 6 months’ premiums, your retrenchment must have taken place no earlier than 6 months after the cover start date and you have not been able to find employment for three months in a row after being retrenched. Only premiums on the basic policy and Star Secure Pro – Protection Benefit compulsory rider (excluding any riders attached) will be waived up to 6 months. This benefit can only be claimed once.
Star Secure Pro includes a non-participating compulsory rider, Star Secure Pro – Protection Benefit. This rider pays accidental death benefit, Retrenchment Benefit, Family Waiver Benefit, and part of the minimum protection value. Please refer to the policy conditions for further details.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
These policies are protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact Income or visit the GIA/LIA or SDIC websites (www.gia.org.sg or www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org. sg).