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Keeping Good Mental Health Admidst Covid 19 Pandemic

Interview with Prof Tan Ngoh Tiong

​​Prof Tan - How are you in the time of circuit breaker?

​​This is unusual and tough time for everybody.

​​Like everyone, I was initially cautious and concern. We take precautions and ensure safety of family and community.

​​We did not go out much., except for walks with family and small group of friends

​​Stay connected with others and listened to the news updates on the Covid situation.

Yes, do keep the spirit high and keep praying!


​​Dr Tan, you were involved with disaster and crisis management as a social worker during the tsunami and Sichuan earthquake - what did you do and what did you learn?


​​Yes I was then finishing my term as Regional President of Social Workers and started the Project Family and Survivors of Tsunami (FAST). Working together with local organizations and social workers we mounted different projects:

  1. Training of child protection workers, in Aceh

  2. Developed home industries for women who lost their husbands and orphaned children as well as therapeutic support groups in Sri Lanka

  3. Conducted mental health training for social workers helping with Tsunami survivors in South India.

  4. Developed training and education for preparedness in Thailand.


​​Learning points:

  • People are resilient

  • Resilience in the midst of disaster involves physical and social factors: physical and environmental resilience.

  • ​Community resilience - social support and caring - deal with vulnerabilities.

  • ​Individual resilience - develop coping, extend network.

​​People take control of their lives - rebuilding and participating together in rehabilitation.

​​Involve with helping others.

​​Important to have Sense of Community, this is vital for recovery.


​​In the Sichuan earthquake we conducted the training of frontline volunteers in counselling and grief work.

​​Taught class on disaster social work at SWUFE, and university in Chengdu.

​​Involved in research and training of social workers.


So, Practically how do we take care of our own mental well being?

  • ​​During the lockdown period- we tend to be isolated, anxious and fearful. It is not social distancing, but physical distancing that is needed. We should stay socially connected with loved ones through phone/chat groups, video calls and build a strong support network .

  • ​Do keep a look out for others for the physical and social needs, family and friends, especially of the elderlies, to make sure that they are healthy, staying safe and are coping well.

  • ​​Call a helpline if you feel anxious and distressed and need to speak to someone, if can't find anyone to chat with. Leave message for them to call back, if needed.

​​Some local Hotlines

  • ​​National CARE Hotline: 1800-202-6868

  • ​​Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222

  • ​​

  • ​​Individual and Family Protection: 6555-0390

  • ​​SOS 1800 221 4444

June15, 2021

​​List of community helplines:

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