Home Hall of Fame Dr Christopher Cheok Cheng Soon
by Olivia Dunn

eMental Health Hall of Fame

SINGAPORE

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD 2022

LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE IN
eMENTAL HEALTH IMPLEMENTATION

Dr Christopher Cheok Cheng Soon

INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH, SINGAPORE

INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH

https://www.imh.com.sg/

The recipient of the 2022 National Leadership Award for Singapore is Dr Christopher Cheok Cheng Soon – Chief and senior consultant with the Department of Forensic Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health.

Dr Christopher Cheok Cheng Soon was an early adopter of e-mental health. This psychiatrist goes well beyond a traditional psychiatry remit. His work to break down barriers and make mental health services much more accessible to all, especially people who are already disadvantaged, is exemplary.

Some examples of his wide-ranging eMental Health efforts include:

  • Back in 2013, he was the first to create a psychiatric service that provided both face-to-face treatment and self-directed internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) here.
  • While serving as the volunteer Chairman of Clarity Singapore Limited, a mental health charity, he also implemented therapist-assisted eCBT.
  • He went on to create 3 mobile apps to help patients with depression, anxiety and gambling. As the clinical lead of the National Addictions Management Service. In addition to self-help materials on gambling, the app also alerts users to reconsider their choices when they are within close distance of casinos in Singapore.
  • As a psychiatrist, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he provided tele-consultation via video conference to his patients.
  • As an educator, he created a 12-week forensic psychiatry e-learning package for residents in psychiatric training.

This year’s award recipient continues to innovate in the e-mental health space. In his role as Head of Psychiatric Services at the Singapore Prison Service, he has made available a self-directed CBT-Insomnia intervention which prisoners can access on their tablet devices. His next project is a suite of self-help programmes for inmates to improve their mental health.

Christopher is so passionate about making internet CBT accessible to more patients, even more so than some of psychologists practising CBT. I remembered him saying this to us, “I am not an expert in CBT but I can try my best to break down the walls for you”. In essence, he was encouraging the Psychology Department to focus its expertise to ‘e-mify’ CBT, while he would navigate system dynamics, resources and approvals on our behalf.

Despite all the professional, operational and administrative challenges working in the e-mental health arena, our award recipient firmly believes that innovations in e-mental health will benefit people with psychiatric disorders, especially those who are not willing to seek help at a clinic.

Our award recipient’s perseverance, can-do spirit and selflessness are key attributes for eMental Health Leadership. As in-person mental health treatment has been so ingrained in both mental health professionals’ and the patients; psyches, it takes determination and a can-do spirit to gradually shift mindsets. Furthermore, our referees applauded Christopher’s selflessness to support other disciplines to develop and embed eMental Health programs and be a catalyst to enable the eMental Health field to flourish in Singapore.”

Congratulations Cristopher and the team at IMH!

FOLLOW CHRISTOPHER ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Victoria Hornby

CEO, Mental Health Innovations, UK

International Phone and Text Helplines

Victoria is CEO of Mental Health Innovations, the charity behind SHOUT, the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text service. From 2011 to 2017, she was Director of Programmes at The Royal Foundation, building a portfolio of projects including the Invictus Games, Coach Core, United for Wildlife and Heads Together.