Friday, July 16, 2010

Letter to MY PAPER: Have support groups to help the mentally ill

My letter was published in the MY Paper on Wednesday 14 July 2010.

Those suffering from mental illnesses requires 24-hour care and this leads to many caregivers sufffering burn-out.

I know because as I am the sole caregiver to my wife who has battled schizophrenia and depression for 35 years, and my journey has not been easy.

In February last year, I proposed through the media that the Ministry of Community Development,Youth and Sports(MCYS) tie up with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), voluntary welfare organisations and residents' committees to set up a database to provide help to the mentally ill and their caregivers.

MCYS informed me that it was looking into this, but I hope - given the increasing number of people who are unable to cope with the stresses of life- the suggestion can be approved and implemented quickly.

As a volunteer with IMH, I am often invited by the institute to share my experience of helping my wife cope with her mental illness with students and employees of many organisations.
In addition, I travel all over Singapore sharing my life experience with many companies with a key message - mental illness is treatable.

I have offered my services at the grassroots levels and at the community- development councils, but sadly, there are no takers.

If grassroots leaders know more about mental illness, they can start support groups within their own constituencies to lend support to the mentally ill.

Let us work together to manage mental illness.


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