Monday, October 4, 2010

Mental illness: Vital for caregivers to have support

My letter on the above subject \was published in The New Paper on Monday 4th October 2010.

I refer to the report, “Father and son were always together (The New Paper, Sept 27).

The alleged murder-suicide case involving Mr Shariffudin Abdul Kader and his mentally disabled son is yet another heart-wrenching story of how many families are struggling to cope with mental illness.

Mental illness is never easy to manage. Relationships are torn apart, home and families are lost, and anticipated futures evaporate.

Respect is eroded and a person is often left with nothing and no one — and at a point in their lives when they are the least capable of helping themselves.

This is why caregivers need vital structural support.

It's understandable that many people give up hope and make decisions based on the need to ease the pain of the moment. Mr Shariffudin Abdul Kader who loved his son dearly, probably felt that way.

And so did the Singapore-born Tan Hung Kiat who killed his schizophrenic wife in Australia with a fatal dose of her psychiatric drugs.

The toll of caring full time for his wife for 19 years was clearly too much for him. He was drained out - physically, mentally and probably financially.

The Institute of Mental Health's vision of becoming the leading mental health centre in Asia by 2012 can be realised only if there is an excellent support structure for caregivers.


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