Govt explains why they think NUS 2022 survey showed 'happiness' declined among S'poreans

They said one reason might be people's emotions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Khine Zin Htet | February 14, 2024, 02:14 PM



A survey on "quality of life" conducted by the National University of Singapore in 2022 showed a decline in happiness among Singaporeans from 2016 to 2022.

Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Alvin Tan, gave possible reasons for this decline during parliament sitting on Feb. 6, 2024, in reply to questions filed by Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng.

Different definitions of happiness

Tan explained that the report used different scales and that the definition of "happiness" in the report varied.

One definition is that happiness is a "state of feeling or showing pleasure or contention" and is distinct from mental health needs or issues, he said.

While the government is unaware of existing studies done in Singapore that correlate both, he shared that they have implemented a holistic approach to enhance Singaporeans' mental health and well-being.

Variety of factors can be attributed to decline

The decline could be attributed to a variety of factors, Tan said.

"It could reflect Singaporeans' emotions as they weathered the Covid-19 pandemic, where we had few opportunities to interact with one another or to participate in arts, culture, sports activities, or through volunteering."

Tan also pointed out that Singapore is the happiest country in Asia and the 25th happiest country in the world in the World Happiness Report 2023.

National strategy for mental health

Tan referred to the national strategy announced in October 2023, saying that the "SG Mental Well-Being Network" is a community pillar of the strategy.

"Through the network, we bring together partners and citizens to strengthen mental wellbeing and mental health outcomes," he said.

He also mentioned well-being circles around the communities that can equip citizens with skills to care for their mental well-being and that of others around them, as well as strengthen community and peer support.

He said the government also works with schools and employers to create environments that support mental wellbeing.

Motion on mental health

The importance of mental health and advancing the mental well-being of Singaporeans was again discussed in parliament on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, 2024.

This followed a motion put forth by Members of Parliament (MPs) Wan Rizal, Edward Chia Bing Hui, Mariam Jaafar, Tan Wu Meng, and Yip Hon Weng.

The motion called for Parliament to recognise the importance of mental health as a health, social and economic issue, affirm the importance of a robust national mental health ecosystem and call for a "whole-of-Singapore" effort to implement a national strategy to enhance mental health and well-being.

The motion was unanimously passed after a two-day debate lasting more than nine hours.

Top photo from Canva