Thursday, March 25, 2010

Letter to the New Paper: Caregivers of mentally ill: Provide better support for them

My letter to the New Paper on the above matter is published today, Page 22.

I refer to the report, “ For better or for worse” (The New Paper, Mar 22).

While I have great admiration for Mrs Mary Yap for keeping her marriage vows intact by caring for her mentally ill husband for years, I am deeply disturbed by the lack of support for psychiatric patients and their caregivers.

Looking after a loved one with a psychiatric condition is extremely tough. Caregivers pay a heavy price in terms of financial cost, energy and emotional pain.

Though the Institute of Mental Health has limited funds and resources, it has done its part to provide some measurable support for psychiatric patients and their caregivers.

But in order to better manage mental illness in a first world country like Singapore, the Government must play a leading role in providing better structrual support for caregivers.

Unlike Mrs Yap, family members often stay away from those stricken with mental illness. I view this callous attitude as wilful neglect.

Perhaps it is time the Mental Capacity Act be strengthened so that those who deliberately choose to ignore the needs of the mentally ill can be brought to court.

Mrs Yap mentioned that she has financial problems in looking after her husband. This is a common problem faced by many caregivers as they may have to give up their jobs to be with the patient round the clock.

This is precisely why funds have to be raised on a national level for this group of neglected citizens.

The Government has big plans to spruce up and brighten our HDB flats. I hope that the lives of psychiatric patients and their caregivers can also be spruced up so that they too can live in dignity.


No comments: