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 Centre will develop and test resilience building programmes for adolescents and young adults to equip them 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 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 can be susceptible to stress. University students and working professionals face daily stress from multiple aspects of life, including occupational, family and relationship issues. In more serious cases, they can face burn-out and depression. NMSC aims to mitigate these potential issues using a upstream prevention approach.
The rapidly rising proportion of elder adults in our society poses significant challenges in healthcare, finance, housing and employment. Successful aging is multi-dimensional and encompasses the avoidance of disease and disability, maintenance of high physical and cognitive functions, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities.
Research Studies and Community Programmes
The YEAR study is a longitudinal study to estimate the prevalence of mental health issues in adolescents to guide the planning of prevention and treatment services. This study uses SYRESS, a localised resilience scale to assess mental well being and emotional resilience in youths in mainstream schools, to identify gaps for potential interventions.
Mind Art Experiential Lab (MAEL)
Mind Science Centre has been identified as one of the NUHS Centres of Excellence and is currently developing an innovative space at Alexandra Hospital (Blk 29). This incubation hub aims to inculcate mental resilience across the age continuum with initiatives that explore a linkage between the five senses and the human mind using various forms of art and mindfulness. The objectives include conducting of translational research for the at-risk population to develop tailored, evidence-based programmes. The MAEL is expected to operationalise in Q4 2019.
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.
Age Well Everyday (AWE) Programme
To cultivate mental resilience and reduce the risk of depression and dementia, AWE is a volunteer-driven structured community programme for active ageing and cognitive performance, derived from ongoing research in the Jurong Ageing Study (JAS) on mental functions.
The JAS 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 educational programmes such as mindfulness practice, music, art, and gardening to improve cognitive, emotional and functional well-being.
Community Health Intergenerational (CHI) Study
At present, there is no therapeutic cure for cognitive decline and impairment. The CHI Study aims to obtain a comprehensive health profile of elderly living in West Singapore to identify at-risk groups for future community projects. The study aims to investigate mental resilience and vulnerability factors in of the aging process in the biological, psychological and social domains.