Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This letter was published in the Catholic News on Sunday April 12, 2009

I refer to the article, “Giving Hope – every Catholic's vocation” (CN, Mar 29).

Many of the stories highlighted in the new booklet, Giving Hope touched me. But as I read the booklet, I was deeply disappointed to note that there is not a single ministry or programme that provides concrete support for the mentally and their caregivers. Yet there are thousands out there who are shrouded in shame and suffering in silence.

Over the last two years suicide, anger and emotional behaviour among the locals have been increasing. Practically every week, I read of newspapers reports touching on mental patients. It paints a gloomy picture of those struggling with the “demons in their minds”. The March 27 New Paper report,“Don't let these ticking time bombs go off ” highlighted stories of neighbours being harassed by mental patients who live all alone.

With society still not ready to accept people with mental illness, psychiatric patients will be further isolated if quick remedial action is not taken to help them and their caregivers.

There are many Catholics nurses, doctors, social workers and counsellors who can provide the much-needed support for these marginalised citizen. Some of them work in the mental health industry. Yet nothing is being done to ease the plight of the mentally ill and their families. Why?

It is therefore crucial that all Catholic churches start a pastoral care ministry, if they have not already done so, and for Caritas to quickly set up a psychiatric ministry to look into the welfare of these people who have been left out in the cold for far too long.

Remember, “The mark of a civilized society is the way it treats its least privileged.” And the mentally ill are certainly the least privileged.

Raymond Anthony Fernando
Singapore 560601

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