Community Mental Health as a Population-based Mental Health Approach.


BACKGROUND: Mental health services for youths in Singapore were challenged by accessibility and resource constraints. A community-based mental health program working with schools and other partners was developed to address the population needs. AIM: To describe the formation of a community-based mental health program and evaluate the program in terms of its outcome and the satisfaction of the users of this program. METHODS: Based on needs analyses, a community multidisciplinary team was set up in 15 schools to pilot a new model of care for youths. Implemented progressively over five years, networks of teams were divided into four geographic zones. Each zone had clusters of 10 to 15 schools. These teams worked closely with school counselors. Teams were supported by a psychiatrist and a resident. Interventions were focused on empowering school-based personnel to work with students and families, with the support of the teams. RESULTS: 4,184 students were served of whom 10% were seen by the school counselors and supported by the community team. Only 0.15% required referral to tertiary services. Outcome measured by counselor and teacher ratings showed improvements in the Clinical Global Impression scale and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. These included reductions in conduct problems, emotional problems, hyperactive behaviors and peer problems. Furthermore, prosocial behavior also significantly improved. Preliminary cost effectiveness analyses suggest that community treatments are superior to clinic interventions.