After asking around, I learned that a 50-minute session with a psychologist in Singapore can easily cost up to $250, depending on the type of clinic and type of therapy. Medication jacks up the price a few hundred dollars more.
As a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan, Crystal is forced to be self-sufficient. Her parents pay for her accommodation but pay little else. Holding down a job in itself was a challenge due to the irregular frequency of her dissociative episodes.
She knows that therapy is a long-term treatment that would require her to fork out a sum of money on a regular basis. Without a stable income, therapy wasn’t feasible at all. Her parents held onto an archaic idea that those with mental illness were ‘crazy’, so asking them for money wasn’t an option either.
Crystal staved it off for as long as she could. It wasn’t until she had her first public dissociation-induced panic attack in front of a friend did her life finally turn around.
That same friend introduced her to CHAT hub, a platform that connects youths in need to mental health professionals at subsidised rates. The service provided her with a referral to a psychiatrist in a public hospital, as well as another referral to a therapist in a private clinic that offered additional subsidies.
With those referrals in hand, she pays just a bit over $20 instead of the original $80++ for her psychiatric sessions. Her medication is also discounted, at just $150.
Meanwhile, therapy (which should have cost her $120 per session) was shaved down to $80 thanks to subsidies. But in light of her financial situation, the clinic halved it further to $40.
Still, when compounded, $40 per session is still a hefty sum of money for her.
Having invested her savings into her initial appointments allowed her to hold onto jobs better — she now works part-time as an art teacher, doing ad-hoc administrative work and helping out at art shows. But there were still times where she found herself without two pennies to rub together.
She currently has an Instagram account dedicated to selling handmade and custom bracelets. The account’s description jokingly states “please fund my coping mechanism”.