Press Release: November 04, 2020
The Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) has launched a new version of mindline.sg, a resource for Singaporeans to cope with the stresses of the protracted COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to life in a “new normal”. This new version of the web-app service mindline.sg now includes access to internationally-acclaimed Wysa, an emotionally intelligent chatbot. Wysa is an award-winning chat platform for AI-guided mental health self-care. Wysa is usually a paid service that is now being made available to mindline.sg users free-of-charge for an initial period of one year.
mindline.sg is a Singapore-developed stress management and coping website that consolidates access to local resources with a wellbeing self-assessment tool. A multi-disciplinary team, including clinicians and social and computer scientists from the Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), jointly developed mindline.sg.
mindline.sg and Wysa have been integrated to maximise ease-of-use. All usage is completely anonymous and no personal or identifiable information is collected. The new and expanded version of mindline.sg will help individuals manage stress and anxiety through a wide range of self-help resources and exercises and, if needed, direct users to local resources and hotlines. With the latest enhancement, mindline.sg will allow users to access resources, confidentially work through issues, resolve stress, and access tools to decrease worries, improve sleep, etc. It will also suggest useful hotline numbers should the user need to talk to someone about his or her issues. In addition, the collaboration with Wysa provides mindline.sg users with access to meditation, breathing, yoga, motivational conversations and exercises.
Said Professor Robert Morris, MOHT’s Chief Technology Strategist: “We are often inundated with information when all we really need is a chance to be listened to, and to ask the right questions so we can figure things out. Think of mindline.sg as a battery of useful resources, a constant companion and trusted friend, who listens to us and guides us through our challenges in a privacy-preserving and non-judgmental manner. If needed, it will guide us how to reach out for help.”
Useful During COVID-19
“Where mental health is concerned, we are looking at a whole spectrum that involves not just mental health disorders. A large part of our challenge is psychological and emotional distress as a reaction to these extraordinary circumstances. For many of us, we have had to make huge adjustments in work, study, as well as in our family and social lives. In non-pandemic times, we will experience stressors and some tend to be transient. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic and social consequences, the stress tends to be protracted and emotional reactions can be more severe,” said Dr Jimmy Lee, Senior Consultant at IMH.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought mental health awareness to the forefront, many could be hesitant to reach out for help due to concerns of social stigma. Said Dr Lee: “We hope that by providing an anonymous and safe space, and availing users to the self-assessment tool with needs-matching to resources, we can reduce the barriers to help seeking, and empower them to take the first step to self management and regaining their emotional and mental wellbeing.” Added Ms Vivienne Ng, Chief Psychologist at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF): “We recognise that in these extraordinary times, the issues individuals face tend to be complex, with many overlapping areas of stress like financial and marital strains as well as caregiving needs. Therefore, we wanted a platform that is comprehensive and able to cater to various needs during this difficult time.”
Empowering Users Through Technology
Easily accessible on a smartphone or computer, users can assess their own needs, find appropriate help and resources conveniently, and feel empowered to manage their own stress through the use of technology. “One challenge of seeking help, is finding a suitable service that caters to individual needs. mindline.sg is a useful tool for this purpose. We encourage social service agencies to promote mindline.sg so that more can be aware of this tool,” said Mr Chan Whee Peng, Director of Services, Service Planning & Funding Group at the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Said Dr Loke Wai Chiong, Clinical Director (Programmes) and Head (Integrated
Health Promotion) at MOHT: “We will continue to observe the usage of mindline.sg, gather information and make improvements, for example adding specialised services for specific population groups such as youths, seniors and healthcare workers. We will also work towards building more culturally-contextualised content, responsive to the evolving needs of the community. In the longer term, we hope that this innovation can increase public health capability, and create high impact at a relatively low cost.” “We’re delighted to see Wysa’s AI-guided support integrated into Singapore’s mental health services, so it can act as a ‘digital front door’ to provide help even at 4 am” added Ramakant Vempati, co-founder, Wysa. “This has been flexibly integrated with existing services so users can either get self-care or escalate to the right service, while maintaining clinical assurance and privacy. Collaborating with mindline.sg is a big step forward in our mission of enabling access to mental health at scale”, he concluded.
Wysa is an AI-based ‘emotionally intelligent’ chat platform, which combines AI chat and digital self-help with expert human support to its users directly as well as enable insurers, healthcare providers, employers offer large-scale self-management of mental wellness to their members, patients, and employees and a customizable care pathway to more advanced support. With 1.9 million users across more than 30 countries, Wysa is the top-rated app in the NHS and by ORCHA for stress and anxiety, and also ORCHA’s top app to manage anxiety and support self-care during COVID-19. Wysa responds to the emotions that users express and uses evidence-based cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT), DBT, meditation, breathing, yoga, motivational interviewing, and micro-actions to help build mental resilience skills and feel better.
For more information, see – https://www.wysa.io
Media enquiries for Wysa: firstname.lastname@example.org
About MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT)
MOHT is an agile unit with the mandate to address fundamental and longer-term issues critical for system-level healthcare transformation to meet Singapore’s changing demography, and health and disease patterns. MOHT works with partners to identify pilots that support its programmes and complement ongoing work at MOH and clusters /institutions, with each pilot taking a design-centric approach to implementation, involving providers, healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers at all stages of the design of solutions. MOHT adopts a value-based healthcare approach in endeavouring to achieve better health and clinical outcomes. A longer-term and broader perspective is essential in identifying key system-wide changes needed. These encompass shifts in the following three directions:
(1) longitudinal, holistic care across persons’ entire life course;
focus on wellness and the prevention of chronic disease; and
(3) empowerment of individuals and patients for better self-management.
Each collaboration will be staged with rapid build-measure-learn cycles, anchored by enablers such as technology scanning, IT, data analytics, finance and incentive redesign. From these collaborations, MOHT will develop frameworks, methodologies and toolkits to enable effective solutions to be scaled across the wider healthcare system.
For more information, visit www.moht.com.sg.
About the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) aims to nurture resilient individuals, strong families and a caring society. As MSF, we are professionals with a passion for people. We develop the “heartware” for Singapore through our policies, community infrastructure, programmes and services. Through these efforts, we hope to nurture resilient individuals and families, and play a part in helping our citizens achieve their hopes and aspirations for themselves and their families.
About the National Council of Social Service (NCSS)
NCSS is the umbrella body for over 450-member social service organisations in Singapore. Its mission is to provide leadership and direction in enhancing the capabilities and capacity of our members, advocating for social service needs and strengthening strategic partnerships, for an effective social service ecosystem. Community Chest is the fundraising and engagement arm of NCSS and Social Service Institute (SSI) is the human capital development arm of NCSS.
About the Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH), a member of the National Healthcare Group, is the only tertiary psychiatric care institution in Singapore. Located on the 23-hectare campus of Buangkok Green Medical Park in the north-eastern part of Singapore, IMH offers a multidisciplinary and comprehensive range of psychiatric, rehabilitative and therapy services in hospital-based and community based settings. The 2000-bedded hospital aims to meet the needs of three groups of patients – children and adolescents (aged below 19 years), adults and the elderly. Besides providing clinical services, IMH also leads in mental health research and training the next generation of mental health professionals in Singapore.
For more information, please visit www.imh.com.sg.
Spokespersons available for interview:
Professor Robert JT Morris, Chief Technology Strategist, MOHT
Dr Loke Wai Chiong, Clinical Director (Programmes) and Head (Integrated Health Promotion), MOHT
Ms Vivienne Ng, Chief Psychologist, MSF
Dr Jimmy Lee, Senior Consultant, IMH
Jo Aggarwal, Co founder & CEO, Wysa
Shamana Menon (Ms)
Assistant Manager, Communications
HP: 8823 8487
Jaysree Nagara Raja (Ms)
Assistant Manager, Communications Division
HP: 9625 1919
Quek Ai Choo (Ms)
Assistant Director, Corporate Communications, IMH
HP: 9369 2729
Mariam Mushtaq (Ms)
Manager, Marketing &amp; Communications