Research Areas

Research Methodology and Target Groups

The Centre's research will take a preventative approach in studying the mental health of the overall population and focus on those who are healthy, at risk and with subclinical mental disorders. Research will comprise of epidemiology, genetics, immunology, endocrinology and imaging. The breadth of research will include biological, cognitive, behavioral and lifestyle determinants and the applications of the knowledge to develop interventional programs, including Asian cultural and creative therapies like mindfulness practice, music, art, and gardening, together with natural nutrient supplements.  It will adopt a fresh approach to advancing mental health in our community and coping with the challenges of urban life.

The NMSC will focus on three target groups that represent the three important stages in life:

Children and Adolescents:
Building Mental Resilience

The most critical stage of development is childhood, as it shapes our mental resilience and determines how we deal with challenges later in life. Depression has become a common occurrence amongst children in Asia who are overwhelmed by the stress of academic rigour and family expectations.

The NMSC will develop and test resilience building programmes for adolescents and young people to equip children with emotional mastery and social intelligence. The research can provide an important basis for planning nation-wide programmes to enhance the quality of precious human resources for development in Singapore.

Students and Professionals:
Managing Occupational Stress

In 2015, the Straits Times reported that over fifty-five percent of senior managers and business owners surveyed were feeling more stress than five years ago. Anyone who experiences changes, often extreme changes, in their lives will be susceptible to stress. University students and working professionals (eg. pilots, bankers, healthcare professionals, etc) face daily stress whether from occupational hazard and/or family issues and can face burn-out and depression.

The NMSC will pilot a Transformative Leadership Programme to enable students to expand their repertoire of coping skills to take on the stresses of the world and avoid self-destructive behaviour. The programme also hopes to strengthen the minds of our youth, build character and inculcate traits like compassion, care, self-awareness, resilience, altruism and gratitude and encourage our youth to be more engaged with the community. Our aim is to build a new breed of young volunteer caregivers. Following the pilot programme, we will look to expand it to working professionals and in the process encourage healthier work environments.

The Elderly:
Ageing Successfully

Substantial increases in the number of older persons in society pose daunting challenges in healthcare, finance, housing and employment. Successful aging is multidimensional, encompassing the avoidance of disease and disability, the maintenance of high physical and cognitive function, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities.

To cultivate mental resilience and reduce the risk of depression and dementia, this programme on active ageing and cognitive performance builds on ongoing research in our ‘Jurong Ageing Study’ on mental functions, such as memory and mood changes. The study looks at how the elderly are influenced by genetic, biological, physical and social and environmental factors. Further studies aim to examine whether natural supplements, such as folate, vitamin B12, omega-3, curcumin, anti-oxidants, together with physical, social and programmes, such as mindfulness practice, music, art, and gardening, can improve cognitive, emotional and functional well-being.