A/Prof Daniel Fung is Chairman of the Medical Board and Senior Consultant at the Department of Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health.
At the start of the lockdown, Fung got right down to revamping his home environment. “I never thought I needed a good mic or a bigger screen or a better camera,” he says. He runs teleconsultations with his patients every Tuesday afternoon.
Telepsychiatry isn’t new, but it used to be reserved for special scenarios, such as for patients in nursing homes, he notes. “I like trying new things so it wasn’t too much of a hassle. In fact, I thought it was good.”
Supervising medical students has also changed. Usually, he would be in a room with a group of students, who would then take turns to interview a simulated patient. Now, all this takes place on Zoom. “It’s very odd because you miss out on the nuances of conversations,” he says.
What has been difficult about this time? The fear of catching the illness and bringing it to the hospital, Fung says. The lack of social interaction has also been trying. “The physical distancing we can handle, but the social isolation is highly stressful.”
How did he cope? “Unlike most Singaporeans, I didn’t do a lot of exercising,” he laughs. Instead, family time has been an important anchor for him in this season. He tried out his children’s bakes, and ordered in from new restaurants for family dinners. They even started selling home-made masks and gave all proceeds to charity.
Fung is also President of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professionals (IACAPAP), which promotes research and policies for the mental health of young people. IACAPAP is holding a virtual conference from 2 to 4 Dec to bring professionals together to discuss policies to help child mental health. Find out more here.
Illustrations by Joy Lim.