My letter to The Sunday Times on the above subject is published today, Sunday 23rd February 2014.
Managing editor Han Fook Kwang’s commentary (“Don’t stop at the pioneer generation”; last Sunday) certainly strikes a chord with many older Singaporeans.
I fully agree that Singapore needs a comprehensive national plan to tackle ageing issues, and that we should appoint a Minister for Ageing who can spearhead a new ministry.
We can learn a lot from a developed country like Australia, where support for the elderly and those with disabilities, including mental illness, is top-notch.
While there are advocates who champion the rights of persons with physical disabilities, people with mental illness do not get the same level of support because mental health issues make many people uncomfortable.
We need to establish a culture where our elderly and those with mental illnesses are not forgotten, because being mentally well is just as important as being physically healthy. More so when many of our elderly folk are prone to developing chronic illnesses such as depression and dementia.
Currently, there is no MP or Nominated MP with a background in psychiatry who can speak up on mental health issues in Parliament. It would be helpful to have such representatives in future.
Raymond Anthony Fernando