Conversations with Rita Haque - Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (Part 2)

Hello everyone, this is Sonny Kwok, Founder of Yafot Wellness. I’m very excited to chat with Ms Rita Haque. She’s our latest addition to the Yafot Wellness team as our Wellness Coach & CBT Specialist. Today, we’re going to discuss on the mental wellness space in Singapore.

Mental Health & Wellness

Sonny: The need for mental wellness has been increasingly known yet it is still largely a taboo for us in the Asian context. How real is mental wellness issues in our local communities? Able to share with us some of your encounters.

Rita: Depression and Anxiety are very common and seem to be affecting younger people who resort to self-harm and more serious and permanent relief. Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar and Schizophrenia are more serious illnesses. Singapore has the highest number of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sufferers in the world.

The government is giving this situation more attention. Once we identify a serious disorder that cannot be helped by talk therapy, we immediately refer the client to a practitioner who can offer medical support as it can escalate to dangerous levels.

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) clearly states the symptoms that guide diagnosis. Usually when a client suffers from sleeplessness, restlessness and agitation for more than two weeks, more help is needed.

Borderline Personality Disorder is more difficult to diagnose because these people are usually high functioning. Sometimes, they can be extreme in their behaviour. It takes an expert to identify and diagnose this condition.

Sonny: How can we approach our friends and family on this topic? Any advice?

Rita: Observation in a change of behaviour is an indication that something is not right.

These include:

  • Withdrawal

  • High sensitivity over small matters

  • High irritability

  • ·Overdoing an action like over-washing, bathing, tidying

  • Hoarding

  • Meticulous to a fault that it becomes a problem.

If the behaviour persists for more than two weeks, you should approach the person about it. Most people who are experiencing these symptoms are in denial or unaware of their condition.

Asking someone, “How are you, I have noticed you …. for several days now. How can I help you? “is a good start.

Just listen and don’t advise or interrupt. Sometimes they may rudely brush you off. Don’t take it personally. If it starts to escalate, you’ll need professional help.