Thursday, October 3, 2013

Letter to Mediacorp’s TODAY newspaper: Carers can help steer the way in mental health issues

My letter on the above matter was published in MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper on Thursday 3rd October 2013.

The online report, “Steering committee for mental healthcare issues useful: Halimah Yacob” (Sept 27), is about an issue close to my heart.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said it would be useful to have a committee that allows for feedback and suggestions and that can help people who are experiencing mental health issues on a daily basis. I agree with her that a holistic approach is necessary in tackling these issues.

The views of dedicated carers who have successfully helped their loved ones to a full recovery can help the proposed steering committee to formulate policies that would benefit the growing psychiatric community here.
To this end, experienced carers should also be prepared to offer their services and be allowed to sit on the committee, to do more.

Madam Halimah also cited the challenge of stigma and job discrimination. Many people, employers included, think they know about mental illness, but they do not. There are many recovering patients who, with training and support, have hidden talents and can contribute to society.

To this end, it would be in their interest to remove the requirement in job application forms asking job seekers to declare if they have a history of mental illness. The Manpower Ministry must lead by example.

Mental illness is not an identity but an issue which needs to be tackled quickly, as it is creeping into our schools, the workplace and the community.

World Mental Health Day is on Oct 10. Let us, as a community and a government, be a beacon of light and give hope to those who are struggling to cope with the onslaught of mental illnesses.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



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