It’s only fitting as I write this proposal which also makes up for one chapter in my new book, to accord my deepest appreciation to Associate Professor Chua Hong Choon whose dynamic leadership has placed the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on the world map. Together with his Corporate Communications team, I was privileged to participate in the recent IMH event, the Together Against Stigma (TAS) conference which was held at Marian Bay Sands Singapore on early October 2019.
During our growing up years, my mother would often share words of wisdom to all her 6 children. One such precious gem she shared was about dreams. Mom told us that when we have a dream that occurs anytime from past midnight to 5am, it is likely to become a reality.
After my wife passed away, I have been having lots of dreams and one dream that came to me 3 weeks ago was about pursuing my passion to make this a better world by useful suggestions and doing more for mental health. That has inspired and motivated me to write my next book, “Pursuing dreams, transforming lives” and to come up with yet another idea on how we can help to de-stigmatise mental illness – in a big and more effective way.
Wheel of fortune
Wheel of Fortune (often known simply as Wheel) is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin that debuted in 1975. The show features a competition in which contestants solve word puzzles to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel.
In the main game, contestants have three options: spin the wheel and call a consonant, buy a vowel for $250, or solve the puzzle. Each consonant is worth the cash value of the wedge the wheel lands on. Contestants can continue spinning the wheel until they miss a letter or spin a bankrupt or lose a turn.
NAMI on Jeopardy
Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in the form of questions. Cash and prizes are offered.
The National Alliance for Mental illness (NAMI) of America has come up with an innovative idea to help de-stigmatise mental illness through the popular game show, “Jeopardy.”
We can always emulate success stories and experiment with bold ideas. Being the BEST, we can be.
National broadcaster can rise to the occasion
To this end, I propose that MediaCorp TV and radio introduce a similar show or quiz programmes on mental illness as an effective method to de-stigmatise the illness for this is yet another way of fostering awareness on these issues.
Possible sponsors can include the big hermetical companies
A committee comprising the media giant and IMH along with her partners such as the Health Promotion Board and the National Council of Social Services can be formed to study the feasibility of producing these meaningful programmes for possible implementation.
Talks on mental illness must be on-going and intensified
Generally, people, especially Asians are wary of associating themselves with mental illness as it carries a nagging stigma. When I produced my novel, Loving A Schizophrenic”, I sold 50 copies to all the libraries in NLB. For a few months, the books were not available as many people borrowed the books. I met 2 persons who candidly shared with me that they have family members who have schizophrenia. My gut feeling is that most if not all who borrowed the books could have someone with mental illness or they themselves are struggling to cope with the illness.
Besides collaborating with IMH to give talks on schizophrenia, I also go all over Singapore, including government agencies that includes, the Central Provident Fund Board, the National Environment Agency, the Police – sharing my experience as a caregiver to my wife on this brain condition.
The same scenario develops.
The audience dared not ask questions, but emailed me later or talked to me privately on how to better cope with the illness as they were worried sick that those in the audience will suspect that they have loved ones with mental illness.
Thus, if the game shows are held, caregivers and patients alike grappling with mental health illness can watch or listen to the recommended shows in the privacy of their homes – without being unfairly labelled or stigmatised.
I would further recommend that youths and students or mental health advocates and mental health care workers take part in the TV show.
It is understood that this proposal will entail extra work, but if it can benefit thousands of patients, caregivers and society at large, is it not worthwhile investing in?
I appreciate a reply from MOH. Thank you,.
Raymond Anthony Fernando