Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to the press: A home is a sanctuary, not a money-maker

My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper appears today, Tuesday 11th April 2017.
I refer to the report “HDB leases: Buyers’ short-term focus may lead to future woes” (March 28).
Since there are residents who feel that the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme is a way to make money, the National Development Minister is right to set the record straight on this scheme, lest speculation continues.
I also agree with the letter “Odds stacked against getting windfall from Sers” (April 5).
A home, whether it is public housing or private property, must be a sanctuary for any family — a place of peace and rest after a day’s work or studying at school. A family should be happy to call it home.
With the Home Improvement Programme, which is heavily subsidised and includes several elderly-friendly features, flat owners, the elderly in particular, can be assured of a safer environment.
Some who have benefited from the programme, however, are seizing the opportunity to sell their flat in the hope of making a profit.
It does not help when property agents are stuffing flyers through gates and into the letterboxes of renovated homes in an attempt to lure owners to sell their flats.
House-hopping for monetary gain should be discouraged. Public housing, in particular, with all the government grants, must not be a money-making business, or else we would indirectly be creating a culture in which money becomes the be-all and end-all.
I cannot understand why people think nothing of packing and unpacking each time they move house. Moreover, the noise generated after new owners buy a flat can inconvenience the neighbours in the block and the opposite block.
This is happening in my neighbourhood practically every month.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bestseller –Loving a Schizophrenic promotes the sanctity of marriage

For many years, my wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang, before and after our marriage, had to stay “hidden” because of the blatant discrimination of her mental illness.

One day I decided that to remove the darkness in her life and bring ‘A Ray Of Hope’ to her and the millions of patients in her condition. Then was when I decided to write this book entitled “Loving A Schizophrenic”. But it was not plain sailing to get the novel out as my wife was so afraid that people would humiliate and hurt her after reading about her severe mental disorder in schizophrenia. It took me 6 months to write the manuscript, but I had to wait one full year before Doris gave her approval.

As a safeguard, I decided to use pseudo names to write the book. I would call her ‘Soo Mei’ and I would be known as ‘Daniel’.

The good news came 6 months after my novel starting selling like hot cakes and when so many people came to me for help after reading the novel. It was then that my wife decided she should not hide her head in the sand and be open about her illness. We both did a press interview and when readers read the article, much more came forward to buy the book. The rest is history.

Doris has battled schizophrenia for the last forty years.  Schizophrenia is the most distressing of all mental disorders.  It is an illness that is often camouflaged and many people who are inexperienced in managing this illness may at first believe that the sufferer showing irritable, moody and suspicious behaviour has a bad personality or is ill behaved.   


The disease first struck Doris at the tender age of 17.  Many people find it very hard to believe that I married her despite her mental illness.  In caring for Doris for more than three decades, I have grown to love her more and more each day.  I have seen this illness ravage more than half her life and the journey, though very difficult, can be rewarding when I see her enjoy life to the fullest. 


My wife has been hospitalised in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) twelve times during our 37 years’ marriage and I have witnessed all her delusions, hallucinations, depression and fears.  Seeing Doris struggling with the “demons in her mind” has been extremely painful for me.


My long hours at work saw Doris spending many days and nights all alone.  The loneliness and the isolation saw her missing out on her medications, resulting in relapses.


When Doris is in a stable condition, she is a loving and kind-hearted person.  But during her relapses, I become her emotional punching bag.  I have taken all her emotional outbursts quietly, allowing her to scold, shout and nag at me because I fully understand how this illness torments her, how it frustrates her.


 Over the years, I have learnt to forgive my wife as I fully understand that it is the illness and not her.  Through my experience in caring for Doris, I have learnt to completely separate the two.  Many people, including family members do not really understand the specialised care that the mentally ill need or the unremitting emotional wear and tear that caregivers have to endure everyday of their lives.  This illness is terrifying because it is unpredictable.  It requires 24-hour, minute-to- minute care.


If you wish to know about TRUE LOVE which can beat all odds and how to be a noble and resilient caregiver, Loving A Schizophrenic is the book for you.

4,000 hard copies of this book have been sold – both locally in Singapore and in the USA, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and India. Manage mental illness, before it manages you.

Don’t hesitate, get a copy now. Just go to this link and buy the book which cost just US $10.



Raymond Anthony Fernando

Author, Mental Health Champion 2010 & Model Caregiver 2007


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Article on The Malayan Chronicles: The naked truth – of mental illness

 Folks, do read this new article of mine as I reach out to a much wider audience- crisp and well presented. Public education is vital for the community and policy makers.



Raymond Anthony Fernando


In 2016, there were several cases where both men and women whose mental state had gone untreated or poorly stripped themselves.

Last month – Tuesday 31st January, police arrested a 48-year-old woman under the mental capacity act by using her naked body to prevent a van from moving off. The incident took place in Bendemeer Road.

There have been onlookers in previous cases who have seize the opportunity to capture people who go nude on their mobile phones for the ‘fun out of it’ failing to understand or empathize that they are someone’s relative.

But in this particular case we saw the good nature of a human being come alive. Seeing her in this pitiful state, a kind-hearted man stepped forward and gave her some clothes to put on. I am sure he must have known that she was not in her correct frame of mind. According to the Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News, the woman later slid under the same van to lie down in front of the wheels.

After the boys in blue spoke to her for about ten minutes, the woman finally put her clothes back on and went away with the authorities.

Just this week, two men were found walking in the nude shocking onlookers ; one in Bukit Batok and another in East Coast.

People who suffer from psychosis that goes untreated will hear ‘voices’ in their head that forces them to do bizarre things. Public nudity by the mentally ill seems to occur most often as part of other hallucinations and distortions of reality. Some feel that God or some other powerful entity has commanded them to reveal the radiance of their whole body, or they suddenly believe themselves to be an exotic dancer.

There are cases where women will walk naked in the hospital wards holding a bible because when they are tormented by the voices in their heads, in their disorientated state, believe that the devil is taunting them. And only God can save them.

As the mind degenerates in the twilight years, the elderly who try to cope with dementia may also strip themselves and as such family and professional carers must be mindful of this problem; and learn as much as they can so that steps can be taken to keep their modesty intact.

For people with dementia may also strip down in public and at unsuitable times; this behaviour is usually unrelated to any kind of psychosis. Rather than being delusional, dementia patients seem to just be confused.

Additionally, bipolar people experiencing a manic episode may simply lose their inhibitions, which can result in flashing or streaking or other inappropriate nudity, but that seems to be a less common cause than delusions.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cancer and Community : By Raymond Anthony Fernando

Check out my moving article, folks, here on Happy TV

Many people become understandably demoralised and dejected when they get sombre news from the doctor that they have cancer. Their families too find it hard to accept this condition. Treatment for cancer is expensive and many patients have had to sell their property and dip into life savings to pay for this life-threatening illness; and there is no guarantee that one can survive.

Dr. Joe Kahl, the Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente (USA) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  After going through a set of treatments, he thought that he was cured of the deadly disease.  But he was so wrong.  The cancer returned and Dr Kahl was given only a few months to live.  With kids to support in college, the doctor who was under 50 years could not face his friends.  Devastated, he questioned why he had to suffer such a fate when he had maintained a healthy lifestyle.

"I often wonder why I got cancer.  I had been good.  I never smoked.  I watched my diet. I exercised.  I do not drink excessively.  Never took drugs.  I go to church regularly.  From all signs, I had been living a model life.  So, why me?" the despondent doctor asked.

About 10 years ago, I used to hear loud groans and moaning coming from opposite my block. The man lived on the upper floors. Neighbours said he was suffering from cancer. A few weeks later, there was a loud thud on the pavement; the neighbor who was in severe pain for weeks had fallen from his flat.

There were reports in our local newspaper of two gusto citizens who managed to beat the odds in fighting cancer.  Some find that if there’s community support, chances are that patients who have cancer can find renewed hope with medication and emotional aide – as with the case of Tony Leo, a digital marketer who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. He managed to secure free medicine for his condition from the pharmaceutical firm, Novartis, in exchange for his medical records to aid research.

Then there is Ms Calin Tan who was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago, was able to mitigate her ordeal by joining a support group under the Singapore Cancer Society. To pay it forward as a cancer survivor, she hopes to share her experience and coping skills with fellow patients.

Community counts, and we should work towards an inclusive, understanding and empathetic society


Friday, March 10, 2017

Fostering Hope: Raymond Anthony Fernando’s article on Happy TV

I have nothing but praise for the Ministry of Social and Family Development which, in partnership with the Social Service Institute, has recently revamped training programmes to support foster parents who are magnanimous in taking care of other peoples’ children.

Foster care offers children the opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving family environment. Families that get involved provide food, shelter, clothing and love to children in need. For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, foster care gives them a positive experience of family life which they may not have had in their natural family setting. 

Foster parents have a decidedly tough job, needing to understand the specific needs and backgrounds of kids they take under their wing, and these include their dietary habits, their emotional needs, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs and much more.

For parents who already have hands-on experience in taking care of their own kids, their willingness to care and support children outside their own family is truly a kind gesture that can transform the lives of children who lack a stable home for the time being.

In many countries, children who are abandoned become street kids, sleeping on the roadside outside restaurants and supermarkets in the hope that tourists who visit the country will give them money or buy them a meal and a drink.

In Singapore, it is heartening to know that there were reported to be 420 foster families in 2016, an increase of 73 per cent from 243 families in 2013.

The increase in numbers was the result of greater efforts to raise awareness on fostering, said MSF, citing how it organised roadshows, worked with community organisations, religious groups and private organisations, as well as reached out to the community through radio and television programmes.

Being without children, I would very much have liked to foster children who lack a safe and loving home, so who knows, one day when I can afford it, I might consider opening my home to a kid or two.





Thursday, March 9, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to The New Paper: Educate teachers to recognise their stress levels

My letter to The New Paper on the above subject is published today, Thursday

I was saddened to read the report “Relief teacher used Hokkien vulgarity twice on student” (The New Paper, March 7)

Teaching can be stressful, but it is a noble profession as educators with the right attitude can shape our future leaders.

Teaching is all about managing relationships in an intense and public arena all day.

Some emotions will be overwhelming and difficult to manage. They will not be helpful for teaching and learning, and given that our education system is very competitive, it is vital that our educators are taught how to recognise their stress levels.

Teachers, like anyone of us, have feelings and they could have personal problems. We can and must help those who are struggling to find a coping mechanism. This is where training on mental health issues by experts can prove useful.

We now have programmes for students to learn about mental health issues, so why are the very people who help to educate our children not being trained on this subject?

If teachers learn about mental health issues, they will be better positioned to seek help, first, through school counsellors; and if need be, through mental health providers.  The Ministry of Education should give them full support in this.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Thought-provoking article by Raymond Anthony Fernando “Suicides – Saved by Text” here on Happy TV

The delicate subject of suicide has been in the news quite often these past few months.
 It is a worrying concern that our youth are increasingly finding life meaningless.

Youths who are in a crisis often share their struggles and anxieties with peers who may not be well equipped to counsel and advice them.

Some of those who read worrying threads posted on social media can be insensitive or may lack education on mental health issues and therefore pass unkind or ignorant comments that can push troubled youths to end their lives.

As a staunch mental health advocate and a volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), I always intervene on insensitive postings and strive to raise awareness of the distressed one’s state instead. 

The negative threads usually cease after that, and I find that this is just one way we can change perceptions and save lives. 

I follow closely the reports and stories published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which has its head quarters in America.  They produce excellent programmes and services that have helped thousands of Americans.

Recently, they came up with a brilliant idea on how texting through mobile phones can help those who are suicidal.

NAMI reported that in the U.S.A., teenagers send an average of 100 texts per day—3,100 per month. It’s a concise, direct form of communication that helps contain emotional situations. It doesn’t put anyone on the spot or demand immediate answers.

The success of the programme can be seen in how hundreds of thousands of teenagers have used Crisis Text Line for 24/7 crisis interventions in the last 3 years. The average exchange lasts about an hour, or if there’s a risk of suicide, as long as necessary.

Such a unique service can be most helpful to our own youths here in Singapore, who are constantly on their phones.

Let us learn from success stories and provide better structural support for the mentally ill or distressed.