Friday, May 1, 2015

Hoarding in Singapore: Read Raymond's Letter to ST: Take steps to tackle hoarding

My letter on the above matter is published in The Straits Times today, Friday 1st May 2015.

It is shocking that in a First World country like Singapore, there are hoarders who are not only putting their health and those around them at risk, but also causing serious social problems in our housing estates (“Pest-infested flat plagues neighbours”; yesterday).

Hoarding can impair social, occupational and other important areas of functioning. Left untreated, this disorder can lead to family strain and conflicts, isolation and loneliness. A hoarding disorder may be also be associated with distinct abnormalities of brain function and neuropsychological performance, distinct from those seen in people with obsessive compulsive disorder or other disorders.

Hoarders who are obsessed with collecting rubbish and keeping things which they refuse to part with for decades will refuse to allow anyone to enter their home, fearing that their things will be taken away. It is a sad state of affairs that a concerned citizen in Ms Nur’Ashkin Zainol had to resort to posting on social media a video of this hoarding problem to draw attention to this grave situation in Eunos Crescent.

At a time when the Singapore Tourism Board is spending millions of dollars in marketing Singapore as a great destination for travellers, such reports do not tie in with Singapore’s reputation of being a clean and green city.

Government agencies like the town councils, the National Environment Agency and the Housing and Board, and all grassroots leaders need to learn more about mental health issues that include hoarding disorders.  

They need to work closely with the professionals from the Institute of Mental Health to eradicate hoarding issues in the heartland estates, some of which may not be reported.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



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