Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reach out to S’poreans who don’t know there’s help

This is my 36th letter to the press advocating for more support for the mentally ill.
It was published in the NEW PAPER on Saturday 7th Feb 2009.

I refer to the article, “Request for financial help if you need it” (The New Paper, 3 Feb).

The call from Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, the Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), to Singaporeans to ask for financial assistance if they need it is heartening.

Many people are unaware of where they can get help. Some residents, including those with mental illness, are so poor that they can’t afford to buy newspapers and read about the help measures that are available.

There are psychiatric patients who cannot afford to buy proper clothes. When they wear the same clothes over and over again, they are labelled dirty.

Persons with mental illness face huge setbacks in their lives, and because of the stigma associated with this illness, cannot find jobs. The Government and the community must look into the welfare of these citizens.

MCYS should work with grassroots leaders, the Community Development Councils, the Institute of Mental Health, the Singapore Association for Mental Health and voluntary welfare organisations, and set up a database to provide much-needed help measures for these citizens.

Psychiatric patients or caregivers can also be invited to register with MCYS so that such services are brought to the doorstep of those most in need.

With access to the database, the residents’ committees can also reach out to these needy residents, and provide crucial financial and structural support.


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