My letter to The New Paper on the above matter is published today, Monday 13th October 2014.
I agree that while the authorities can watch parents with mental illness or a history of violent behaviour, those around them should also be involved, as reported in, “Community can help by being vigilant” (The New Paper, Oct 9).
Minister of Social and Family Development (MSF) Chan Chun Sing gave this reply in Parliament when MP Janil Putucheary raised the issue of care-giving arrangements for parents with mental illness.
I share the the Minister’s view that the community needs to play its part by being vigilant and alert the authorties when they come across children in vulnerable circumstances.
However, given the nagging social stigma that plagues the mentally ill, not everyone will step forward to help.
Moreover, all those with mental illness may not know how to reach out for help as some of them may not have access to computers or the media and may have few friends or neighbours who would want to associate with them.
To reach out to them, I propose that neighbourhood watch groups be formed, perhaps one for every two block of flats in our housing estates, with the grassroots leaders and the local MP providing support and advice.
Monthly visits to the residents can help to build a rapport between the residents and government officials and at the same time reach out to vulnerable groups who may be in dire need of social support.
This will let us become a caring community for those who may be suffering in silence.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO