My letter on the above matter is published today in the New Paper, Wednesday 3 march 2010, page 18.
I refer to reader Lionel De Souza's letter, “ There are many who do care” (The New Paper, Mar 2).
The time and efforts put in by Mr De Souza and volunteers from the Barker Road Methodist church to bring love and joy to psychiatric patients at Sunlove Home is generous, and I appreciate that.
But what is needed is for volunteers, including grassroots leaders like Mr De Souza, to reach out to the vulnerable groups living in the heartlands- the elderly, those struggling with mental illness and their caregivers and Singaporeans who are living alone.
To reduce the growing number of sufferers of mental illness and families from alienation and tragedies, we must cast our nets wider.
Recently well-known celebrity Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son, who suffered from depression committed suicide. In his farewell note, he mentioned that he had no friends. He was crying out for help.
This is precisely how people with mental illness feel and it is crucial to reach out to these citizens who feel neglected. It is best if the outreach to these groups is Government-led.
We must get past the stigma of mental illness so that we can start the process of healing. An illness of the mind is very difficult to cope with, especially if the caregiver has to care for his stricken one with no family support. I am speaking from my own experience.
I read this quote from someone on Facebook and it sums exactly how befrienders can help improve the lives of those who are isolated and feel uncared for: “Friends are like street lights along the road, they don't make the distance any shorter but they light up the path and make the walk worthwhile” .
I am not getting the support that I desperately need. So, will Mr De Souza and his volunteers walk alongside my wife and I? Will you befriend us?
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO