Sunday, November 5, 2017

Opinion: Strong community support can help psychiatric patients to work toward recovery

8 years ago, on 22 January 2009, I proposed through the press (The New Paper) that the government builds more psychiatric homes, and it has been implemented.  Thank you, The New Paper for your wonderful support.

Last Saturday, a sheltered home for psychiatric patients – the Anglican Care Centre (SACS) managed by the Singapore Anglican Community Services was officially opened and Health Minister Gan Kim Young officiated at the event.  

When the Ministry of Health stands alongside the mentally ill, there is a good chance that slowly persons with mental illness will gain acceptance. It is encouraging that the Government is listening to feedback.  I am indeed very grateful to the government for building this psychiatric home.


On 1st November 2017, my late wife, Doris who was born on ALL SAINTS DAY will be celebrating her 65th birthday. She watches over me often, I can feel her presence in my room at night and even during the day. After her bath, Doris will put smell talcum powder on her face and body, and that’s the smell I get when I feel her around me. She brings renewed hope to me, and if she was alive, Doris will also be so happy that this shelter has been built.


Here’s my take on the newly opened Anglican Care Centre (SACS).


The newly opened Anglican Care Centre (SACS) managed by the Singapore Anglican Community Services is the right setting for psychiatric patients to work towards recovery, and it is a healthy sign that Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, despite his busy schedule, was there to officiate at the opening (Centre for those recovering from mental illness; October, 14, 2017, The Straits Times).


Dr Arthur Chern, group chief executive officer of SACS and St Andrew’s Mission Hospital, was spot on when he mentioned that with good community-based support, psychiatric patients can lead a normal life that includes being given regular employment.


Unlike, a physical illness, the recovery from a mental health condition takes a much longer time and lots of patience and understanding is required to enable them to stay in control of their lives.


The road ahead for psychiatric patients may not always be smooth sailing as there will be bumps along the way. But as long as they keep to their medical appointments that includes counselling, take the prescribed medications, exercise regularly and receive staunch support and encouragement from enlightened employers and colleagues, along with loving and caring caregivers and the community, there is an excellent chance of patients heading towards recovery. This will be an opportune time for them to achieve their goals – thereby securing full independence that will eventually enable them to gain acceptance in society.


In working towards building a dynamic inclusive society, let us not define psychiatric patients by their condition nor see it as a character flaw, but rather to understand that they are all human beings, who just like you and me, need love, understanding and kindness.


Raymond Anthony Fernando


No comments: