Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Politicians must not forget the mentally ill: Raymond Anthony Fernando writes to the press

My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper on the above matter gets published today –Wednesday 19th August 2015.
I have been following with interest the plans that both seasoned and aspiring politicians are going to undertake for the electorate.
I agree with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean that it is important to have a team with “integrity, stability, the ability to look into the future and execute for the present” (“Coming GE crucial for S’pore to pick leaders for road ahead: DPM Teo”; Aug 15).
It is also important for elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and Cabinet ministers to show empathy and support for the marginalised in society.
This group includes persons with mental illness, who are often isolated because of the nagging stigma they carry practically all of their lives, and their family members.
Although mental illness is a growing problem, and these citizens need all the support they can get, I hardly hear the issue being championed in Parliament, leaving many of their carers to suffer in silence.
Before my wife, who was a psychiatric patient, died last year, I had discussed the daily struggles these carers face, based on my experience and that of others, with several MPs from the ruling party and the Opposition.
It was discouraging when, despite my attempts to seek more support for these needy citizens, mental health issues were hardly raised by the MPs.

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