Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking care of the mentally ill- Make treatment compulsory

Former news anchor Joanne Lee goes public on being stalked for several years by a patient who suffers from schizophrenia. Concerned that the mentally ill will be further discriminated, Mental Health Activist Raymond Anthony Fernando writes to the press.

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: Taking care of the mentally ill

Make treatment compulsory

My letter to The New Paper (TNP) on the above matter is published today- Wednesday 7th March 2012 on page 19 of TNP.

I refer to the report, “Not hearing from stalker makes her even more anxious” (The New Paper, Mar 5.)

I fully empathise with the mental anguish that former news anchor Joanne Lee has gone through after being stalked for four years.

She had to give up her job, her privacy and worst of all, she ended up seeing a psychiatrist, having to live in fear.

I applaud Miss Lee for having the courage and conviction to share her traumatic experience publicly in an effort to raise more awareness about stalking. 

Indeed, there could be much more victims of stalking who suffer in silence.

However, the mentally ill should not be seen as nothing but trouble makers.

Many psychiatric patients who are willing to go for treatment have gone on to lead perfectly normal lives - mainly because they have good family and community support.

I would like to suggest that the Government introduces a compulsory treatment order for anyone who suffers from untreated mental disorder; including stalking.  

The police and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) should be given powers not only to send people with mental illness for mandatory treatment but also to ensure that patients do not default on their medication and treatment.

Based on a psychiatric evaluation, a tribunal appointed by the government can decide whether the compulsory treatment order should be made, and if so, for how long. 

A care plan should be included in the order and a trained social worker must be on hand to advise the patients and their families of their rights and the programmes that will help them cope.


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