Monday, January 26, 2009


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone
deeply gives you courage.

- Lao Tzu –
1. First of all, the government should remove the clause on job application forms asking the applicant to declare if he/she has a history of mental illness, as this in itself is stigmatization. If the government takes the lead, then the private sector will do likewise. How do you expect recovered psychiatric patients to continue their treatment if they cannot find work? Work gives the mentally ill a sense of worthiness and helps a great deal in their recovery because “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”

Grants for patients/caregivers
2. Award grants and opportunities that facilitate patients and caregivers to work from home. For example if these citizens can write, sponsorship or funding for their books can enable them to chart new directions in life. If they can bake, provide them with some funding to open/rent a bakery. Then the government and the community, which could include churches, could provide these budding entrepreneurs platforms to market their goods and services.

Raise funds on a National Level for the mentally ill
3. The government should raise funds on a national level for the mentally ill and their caregivers. There are 50,000 civil servants in Singapore and if each one gives just $1 a month, you would have $50,000 per month. The government then matches dollar for dollar and the funds raised can help pay for the needs of the mentally ill and their caregivers. Once the public sector leads by example, the private sector will participate as well. This initiative forms part of community support that will eventually get our society to accept people with mental illness. If funds are raised for physical illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases, and kidney ailments and even AIDS, why can’t money be raised for psychiatric patients? I have raised this matter in the press, including the Catholic News that reaches out to more than 300,000 Catholics, but nothing has been done. Yet we are told to give money to victims of wars and disasters that hit people in other countries. What about the disasters that are taking place right in our own backyard when our citizens lose the will to live? And there have been so many of them that committed suicide. I am sure that if the government takes the lead in this fund raising effort, others will follow suit.

Structural support for caregivers
4. Provide structural support for caregivers and also a caregivers allowance because caregiving of the mentally ill is 24/7 and extremely taxing.

Cooked meal delivery services
5. Major supermarkets in Singapore should implement a cooked meal delivery service or Tingkat lunch/dinner services because with an ageing population, this service will be certainly be in demand. This can create jobs for the elderly and recovered psychiatric patients, as the operators would need kitchen hands, packers, customer service officers and delivery staff.

Good Neighbour Award
6. Introduce a “Good Neighbour Award” scheme that recognizes neighbours who are very supportive of psychiatric patients and their caregivers. Get tough on those who openly discriminate against the mentally ill. Send them for mandatory counselling.

Public Bus Services
7. Public bus companies should support government efforts by entering the grounds of IMH. The 400-metre distance from the present bus stop can seem like 4,000-metres when caregivers have to visit their loved ones daily in IMH. SBS trunk service 88 and feeder bus service 325 should extend their route to enter IMH and pick up passengers. This not only benefits patients and caregivers, but staff who work shifts at IMH. If we want to raise caregiving to a higher level, you must provide improved facilities.

Improvements in the C class wards at IMH
8. The C class wards in IMH are overcrowded- with about 30 patients to a ward. How do you expect patients to recover under such crowded, humid and noisy conditions? After all, the sick go to hospitals to rest, don’t they? Funding from the government will help IMH to renovate and build bigger wards in the C class so that patients can recover under better conditions.

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