Friday, March 25, 2011

Talented psychiatric patients : Set up museum space for their work

My letter on the above subject was published in The New Paper today- Friday 25 March 2011, page 20.

I refer to the report, “He paints to save his mind” (The New Paper, March 20).

Some of our psychiatric patients are very artistic - as with the case of Mr Sim, a long-staying patient of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

I have also seen how a volunteer art therapist at the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has trained his clients to excel in art - paintings, pottery and other types of artwork. The paintings are impressive.

Although IMH and SAMH has been supportive in giving their clients a chance to excel in art, we could also explore other opportunities and platforms for them to gain greater exposure.

Some of the artistic talents of these clients are displayed periodically at public forums and other related events.

After these events are over, people tend to forget that there are indeed such patients who can excel in life.

Government agencies can play an important role in helping to destigmatise mental illness.

To this end, I suggest that our national museum allocate a space within their premises that can permanently display the artistic talents of creative psychiatric patients?

This proposed sponsored art gallery will not only allow these patients to earn a decent living, but will send a powerful message - mental illness can be treated.

SAMH and IMH should also explore collaboration between their clients and patients or ex-patients who write poetry.

Then produce a book, Poetic Tapestry that combines colourful paintings matched with creative poems.

The sponsored book can then be sold and the proceeds divided among the clients who created the book and SAMH or IMH.


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