Ms Tan Li San, CEO, NCSS

Ms Tan Li San joined the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) as CEO (Designate) on 6 January 2020, and formally took over as Chief Executive Officer on 1 June 2020. Li San’s experience in the social service sector included serving on the boards of Beyond Social Services, and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS). She was also a member of the Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST) Steering Committee. She currently sits on the Boards of SG Enable, Charity Council, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and raiSE.

NCSS is a key funder to CAL, with CAL's signature Caregivers-to-Caregivers (C2C) Programme receiving funding from the Tote Board Social Service Fund (TBSSF). The funds received, together with donations from generous donors, allows CAL to continue to provide fully-funded C2C Programmes to caregivers of persons with mental health issues and dementia.

Thanks to funding from partners such as NCSS, CAL’s signature C2C Programme has benefitted over 5000 caregivers to date. Through this campaign, we hope to raise greater awareness about mental health and CAL’s role in supporting caregivers of persons with mental health issues. What advice do you have for caregivers out there who may be struggling with mental illness in the family?

Firstly, we want to thank the caregivers who tirelessly and selflessly care for their loved ones. Caregiving is a journey and we want to encourage them to practice self-care to be able to continue that journey. Taking time to rest, engaging in hobbies and keeping socially connected are all very important. CAL’s Caregivers-to-Caregivers programme supports caregivers in coping with caregiving responsibilities - we encourage caregivers of persons with mental health conditions to join the programme. We also wish to reassure caregivers that that they are not alone. Community support is available, so do seek help early if you are feeling distressed. With professional help, we can overcome difficulties and improve our mental health. Caregivers can tap on Belle, the Beyond the Label helpbot to find out more about resources and support services.

The NCSS Beyond the Label campaign was launched in 2018 as a five-year public education effort funded by the Tote Board Mental Health Strategic Initiative. Since the launch, have you seen a shift in public awareness towards mental health?

Yes, across the 3 years of campaigns, there has been a positive shift overall in both the awareness and perception towards persons with mental health conditions.

Comparing the results from the pre-campaign in FY18 and post-campaign in FY20, the survey respondents showed: a 7% increase in knowledge after exposure to the ad campaign, a 14% increase in positive feelings towards persons with mental health conditions, and a 27% increase in intended behaviour.

There was also an increase in the endorsement of statements such as “Persons with mental health conditions should not be defined by their condition.” and “I would be willing to work with persons with mental health conditions.”. Beyond these numbers, nothing beats the feeling of having persons living with mental health conditions, empowered through this campaign to step out and advocate for themselves. We have received many messages from individuals crediting Beyond the Label as the reason for disclosing their mental health condition and sharing their recovery journey publicly for the first time.

What are some of the existing gaps that need to be met?

There is still much to be done to strengthen mental health services and social inclusion for persons living with mental health conditions. First, we need to continue this fight against stigma. The stigma is often an underlying concern that holds back help-seeking and poses a barrier to employment and social inclusion. Even caregivers of persons with mental health conditions feel stigmatised and isolated. Second, is employment. Unemployment rate among persons with mental health conditions is significantly higher than the general population. Besides the financial aspect of having a job, all of us can agree on how important a job is to our identity, self-esteem and quality of life. Finally, support for caregivers. In this respect, CAL is in the thick of the action. We are proud to be a partner of CAL in this endeavour. In these three areas, we need partners from the public sector, social service agencies such as CAL, and private sector partners to work collectively, and bring our collective energies and expertise to bear.

Acknowledgement: Key Supporters of CAL

Anita Fam

President, NCSS

Anita was CAL's ex-board member. She has been involved in the social service sector for more than 20 years, both at charity and national level, in the areas of disability, palliative care, healthcare and mental health.

Ms Tina Hung

Senior Consultant, NCSS

Tina is passionate about uplifting vulnerable populations, forging sustainable solutions, and developing future leaders. She hopes to continue addressing social problems and co-creating person-centered, holistic and user empowered services.

Dr Fermin A. Diez

Deputy CEO, NCSS

Fermin is an active supporter of CAL. Together with his wife Su-Yen, the couple rallied together to support CAL’s #YOLO2020 campaign to trek to Everest Base Camp to raise awareness of mental health and caregiving.