According to the Singapore Mental Health Study 2016, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the top three mental disorders in Singapore. With one in 28 people suffering from OCD in their lifetime (up from 1 in 33 in 2010), average treatment delays of 11 years (up from 9 years in 2010), and the majority of sufferers not receiving appropriate help, more awareness of the disorder is needed to better support and facilitate recovery for these individuals in our community.
With this objective in mind, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and NUS Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), jointly organized the “Public Forum on OCD” on 23 February 2019 at Town Plaza’s Utown Auditorium 1. More than 650 participants, including members from the public, mental health professionals, and NUS students and staff attended the event. The panel of speakers consisted of Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists with extensive expertise in treating OCD, as well as people with lived experience of OCD and caregivers.
Dr Oliver Sündermann giving a presentation on OCD and its prevalence in Singapore
The forum commenced with an introductory presentation by Dr Oliver Sündermann, Clinical Psychologist and Manager of the Clinical and Health Psychology Centre (CHPC), NUS Department of Psychology. His talk demystified OCD and addressed common misconceptions of the disorder; e.g. the term ‘OCD’ should not be used casually to refer to being neat and tidy. He also highlighted the worrying trend in Singapore of treatment delay, with individuals often battling OCD on their own in silence for many years before they seek professional treatment. Following the introduction, the Consultant Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists from IMH shared their expertise on the pharmacological and psychological treatment of OCD in young people and adults. The services and support networks available for clients and caregivers in Singapore were also being covered.
The second half of the forum was lined up with personal sharings by caregivers of individuals with OCD as well as patients-in-recovery. Their sharings encompassed themes of hope, resilience and perseverance for recovery in spite of their struggles with OCD. Also featured prominently in these personal narratives were the important roles of family and professional support. Families are often the ones who detect initial warning signs and refer individuals for professional help. Hence, they play a crucial role in the individuals’ recovery process by supporting them in treatment and providing emotional support. Professionals such as psychiatrists and clinical psychologists help to ensure that individuals receive the best care tailored to their needs and condition severity. One of the patient-in-recovery speakers shared about how her supportive therapeutic relationship with her psychologist greatly facilitated her recovery.
Panel Discussion with Representatives from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
The forum concluded with a panel discussion, where the speakers addressed questions posed by the audience. Some of these questions included concerns about the harmful side effects of medication, how seeking treatment may adversely impact one’s future prospects as well as the role of religion in the treatment of OCD. The speakers generously shared their views and knowledge and unanimously sent an important message to all, that is “Never lose hope. Recovery (from OCD) is definitely possible”.
The Public Forum on OCD was jointly organized by IMH and NUS. We are grateful for generous funding from the NUS Department of Psychology, and for support from Clarity Singapore.
The Clinical and Health Psychology Centre (CHPC) is affiliated with the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and located on the NUS Kent Ridge campus. The CHPC is the training clinic for the NUS Master of Clinical Psychology programme, and is staffed by postgraduate clinical psychology interns who are under the supervision of doctoral-level clinical psychologists. The CHPC provides an array of specialised psychology services to the public, including specialized assessment and treatment for OCD as well as related disorders such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder. For an overview of CHPC see: https://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/psy/chpc.html
Congratulations to Professor Chua Beng Huat, Department of Sociology on earning a spot on the Foreign Affairs Magazine’s The Best of Books 2018! In his book titled “Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore”, Prof Chua examines the rejection of Western-style liberalism in Singapore, and the People’s Action Party (PAP) forging of an independent, non-Western communitarian ideology.
Prof Chua focuses on three areas in his tracing of the evolution of Singapore’s communitarian ideology: public housing, multiracialism, and state capitalism, each of which poses different challenges to liberal approaches. Consequently, the PAP looks instead to the governing principle of social democracy, which emphasises society over the individual, pervasiveness of the state, and social redistributive policies.
“What we have in Singapore at the beginning of the 21st century is a PAP-dominant, single-party government which ideologically espouses communitarianism, politically continues to maintain the formal features of an electoral democracy, and continues to pursue economic growth, full employment, and the improvement of material life for Singaporeans – efficiently and without corruption” – Professor Chua Beng Huat
The book also examines the PAP’s challenges from an educated populace that demands greater voice, which has led to the liberalisation of the cultural sphere, greater responsiveness and shifts in political rhetoric – but “all without disrupting the continuing hegemony of the PAP in government,” argues Professor Chua.
"Contrary to the conventional wisdom, he argues that neither repression nor a cultural preference for authoritarianism explains the regime’s success; rather, the state’s successful policies—rooted in social democratic ideology and meritocratic leadership—and the island nation’s strategic vulnerability explain why the population has accepted an elitist, repressive system for over 50 years and why it will probably continue to do so." writes Foreign Affairs reviewer Andrew J. Nathan.
Congratulations on your remarkable achievement, Prof Chua!
Chua Beng Huat is Provost Chair Professor in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. His book, “Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore” (2017), A Choice Recommended Title and a Foreign Affairs “Book of the Year” 2018, is available online and at all major bookstores.
As part of its ScholarBank@NUS initiative, NUS Libraries has recently made publicly available 10 theses written by local famous personalities while they were students at NUS. Included among these 10 personalities, who are also FASS alumni, are Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong, singer-actress Ms Joanna Dong and accomplished writer Dr Catherine Lim.
What is perhaps most surprising in this anthology of theses is that Ms Dong’s sociological research proved to be quite perceptive in identifying the paradoxical intimate-yet-anonymous nature of online communication (back then still referred to as computer-mediated communication). This is especially so as social media was nowhere as popular as it is today. Recalling the motivation behind her research, Ms Dong said:
When I chose my thesis topic, I had done so with some childish glee at the prospect of doing some serious writing about a social experience considered back then by most to be “fluff”. Now that social media has become the primary obsession of the modern person, I feel strangely vindicated, as if I had somehow foresaw its rise to significance.
Curious to find out what research interests the other nine famous FASS alumni had during their university days? Click here to find out!
In conjunction with NUS Day of Service 2018, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences collaborated with the NUS Economics Alumni and organised a trip to the Gardens by the Bay for beneficiaries of a children’s charity on 1 September 2018.
The event brought together over 100 FASS alumni, staff and students, and children and their caregivers from Club Rainbow, a charity dedicated to help children with various chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Not only did the children and befrienders enjoy a leisurely walk among the beautiful plants, flowers and the indoor waterfall at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories, they were treated to a spectacular display of sunflowers in the special “Sunflower Surprise” exhibition at the Flower Dome.
The day at Gardens by the Bay ended with a hearty meal at Texas Chicken. Much to the joy of the children, one of the FASS students wore the costume of Arthur, the red panda Faculty mascot, to pose for pictures while another student made sculpture balloons for them.
Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of FASS, who was at the event, said: “I am very happy to see the Club Rainbow children enjoy themselves today and I would like to thank our student and alumni volunteers for making this event a success. I look forward to more opportunities for FASS to participate in such meaningful events in the future.”