Do find time from your busy schedule to read my press letter, but first let me raise some relevant points.
Mental illness is spreading – far and wide. In Malaysia, there are less than 400 psychiatrists to treat 4 million psychiatric patients. In the Philippines, a Senator there revealed that in 2015, everyday 7 Filipinos commit suicide. In Indonesia too, there are so many citizens suffering from mental illness and due to ignorance, some of their mentally ill citizens are caged up. I intend to visit these ASEAN countries to educate their citizens and the authorities on schizophrenia and depression.
God has given me this mission to fulfil (Be of service to mankind) so even though I face huge obstacles in wanting to educate as many people as I can, I just can’t sit there and do nothing.
I tried very hard to educate the residents island-wide through the 5 Mayors in Singapore on the advice of ESM Goh Chok Tong, but was unsuccessful as none responded.
MSF Minister Desmond Lee has called on the public to report cases of abuse when he spoke in Parliament on the cruel treatment of the late Annie Ee. But the reality is that unlike the early years in Singapore, neighbours in the heartlands these days do not mix freely. Added to that no one wants to get involved with mental patients as they are shunned.
I urge MSF to work closely with MOH and its partners who include IMH and the VWOs in the mental healthcare industry and the grassroots leaders for the best results. It is far better for the residents to notify the grassroots leaders on abuse cases who should then bring the matter up to their respective MP who can then tie up with the authorities.
Raymond A Fernando’s press letter to The Sunday Times: Empower IMH to do more for mentally ill residents
My press letter to The Sunday Times on the above matter is published today, Sunday 14th January 2018.
It is perfectly understandable that residents at Block 55, Lorong 5 Toa Payoh are worried about the bizarre behaviour displayed by their neighbour (Woman’s antics spark fear among neighbours; Jan 7).
She has been splashing corrosive liquids, flinging burning items over the parapet and shouting loudly in the mornings.
I believe that the woman has a mental health issue which has gone untreated.
People with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia mistakenly believe that they have been charmed or possessed.
For those struggling with schizophrenia, religious delusions or intense religious-based irrational thinking may be a component of their symptoms.
The most commonly reported form of hallucination is auditory; involving hearing voices when no one is there.
In order for mental illnesses to be properly managed and controlled, it is vital that early treatment is given. Long delays can only make it more difficult for professionals to stabilise the patient.
The current system does not allow the community psychiatric department of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to step in to help if the individual is not a patient of the hospital.
That needs to change, as we are bound to see more cases like the one in Toa Payoh, given our fast ageing population.
It may become necessary for the woman to be given involuntary or assisted treatment, and for IMH to be empowered, under the Mental Capacity Act, to handle such cases.
Raymond Anthony Fernando
For information as well: Trailer: Raymond on podcast gives some insights into his life story. This is only a trailer; the full podcast will be coming out soon.