Viewpoints: Letter to My Paper: Spare a thought for the mentally ill
Raymond's letter to MY Paper is published today, Thursday 7 October 2010 on page A17
Sufferers of mental illness are often stigmatised, which leads to discrimination in the workplace and the community.
These people experience a range of emotions, from depression and shame to guilt and loneliness.
Their self-esteem drops and they get overcome by a sense of hopelessness. In extreme cases, the stigma attached to their condition leads them to commit suicide.
Recently, a video titled, “Stressed” was uploaded on YouTube. It features a woman ranting and raving at passengers on board an MRT train and, at one point, she scolds a man on the priority seat and chases him away. The video has gone viral. To date, the original video has been viewed more than 330,000 times.
Netizens, including Facebook users have passed all kinds of insensitive comments about the woman, who is obviously unstable.
“Siao char bor” (crazy woman) one netizen commented.
With the new media reaching out to millions, such degrading comments will further stigmatise the mentally ill.
The bottom line is this: People become biased towards the mentally ill because they do not understand mental illness.
In general, people tend to fear or dislike what they do not know know because they view it as a threat.
I urge the Government to take action against those who abuse and humilate the mentally ill.
Mental heath-care providers, grassroots leaders and advocates for the mentally ill may be able to help identify such perpetrators.
As we celebrate World Mental Health Day on Sunday, I hope that those who discriminate against the mentally ill will spare a though for pyschiatric patients who are struggling to cope with their illness.
MR RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
Advocate for the mentally ill