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Treatment gap in common mental disorders: the Singapore perspective

  • S. A. Chong (a1), E. Abdin (a1), C. Sherbourne (a2), J. Vaingankar (a1), D. Heng (a3), M. Yap (a4) and M. Subramaniam (a1)...



The problem of wide treatment gaps in mental disorders is endemic world wide. The study aims to establish the treatment gap of common mental disorders in Singapore.


A national sample of 6616 persons aged 18 years and above was surveyed with the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview in which for each diagnostic module, respondents were asked a series of questions regarding treatment contact.


Treatment gap varied considerably between disorders; alcohol abuse had the largest treatment gap (96.2%), followed by obsessive compulsive disorder (89.8%) and alcohol dependence (88.3%). The disorder for which people were most likely to seek help was major depressive disorder. Women with dysthmia were more likely than men to seek help but this help seeking behavior was reversed among those with alcohol abuse and dependence. Age of onset was significantly associated with treatment contact with those who had an earlier age of onset less likely to have treatment contact than those with late age of onset for all disorders except obsessive compulsive disorder.


Our findings suggest that treatment gaps are wide even in an economically developed country like Singapore and other than sociodemographic factors, cultural influences might play an important role in help seeking behavior.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: S. A. Chong, Institute of Mental Health. (Email:


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