Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin was elected the 10th Speaker of Parliament on September 2017. He was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Kembangan-Chai Chee, Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency, in May 2011. He was re-elected in July 2020.

Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL) and Kampong Kembangan CC’s relationship was established in 2017. Since then CAL has been actively working with Kampong Kembangan CC in running on-site C2C Programmes for caregivers. Since 2017, CAL has conducted 8 C2C Classes at Kampong Kembangan CC, training over 90 caregivers.

Mr Tan had previously served as the Minister for Social and Family Development from April 2015 to September 2017. He introduced initiatives to pre-empt developing issues, improve the coordination of aid for the vulnerable, strengthen support for families amidst evolving trends, and galvanise the larger community to care for the less fortunate around them. He also oversees SG Cares, a national movement which encourages Singaporeans to volunteer and give back to society, and is concurrently adviser to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

Mental health is a topic that you often speak about and have shown a lot of support for in your personal capacity. What drives your passion in championing mental wellness?

Mental health is an essential component of our overall health. Mental health issues are real and more prevalent than we think. It afflicts many of our families and it is important that we try and understand it as best as we can, and this drives my passion to champion mental wellness.

Within my constituency, we continuously organise training and education on mental wellness for the residents, volunteers and grassroots leaders. We collaborate with various government agencies and community partners to provide care and support programme by visiting homes of vulnerable residents and their families. We also organise regular discussions and co-creation of solutions for residents with complex needs. My team and volunteers connect agencies and partners to these residents.

What do you think we need to do as individuals, and as a society, to improve the situation for people with mental health issues, as well as their caregivers?

One of the biggest challenges that people with mental health conditions face is the stigma. As a society it is imperative that we reduce the stigma towards people with mental health conditions. We must constantly encourage those who are facing challenges to seek help early. There are multiple avenues of assistance such as the National CARE Hotline (1800-202-6868) and Belle; the Beyond the Label Helpbot which connects public to mental health resources.

Caregivers play a pivotal role in the life of people with mental health issues. Hence, support for caregivers is equally important. Apart from Caregivers Alliance Limited, there are agencies which contribute to such noble missions like Filos Community Services. They provide home-based elder-sitting to allow caregivers have some rest and respite, as well as organising regular caregivers support groups which allow caregivers to share their experiences and challenges.

What would you say to caregivers out there who may be struggling with mental illness in the family?

I would like to convey my deepest appreciation and greatest admiration to all caregivers. The role that they play is a pivotal one for the mental well-being of those under their care. I also encourage all caregivers to seek help whenever they require it. There are many avenues and resources available and they should not shy away from the assistance. Thank you once again.

Finally, what do you look forward to achieving from participating in the W4MW Campaign?

I hope to continue to raise and spread the awareness on the importance of good mental wellness and the availability of the various quality mental healthcare that the government is providing. In addition, I want people facing mental health issues to speak up and learn that it is perfectly fine to talk about their challenges. For others in society I hope that we can all learn to listen and offer support to those around us who are trying to cope with mental health issues.