Stop the ‘eurghs’, start regular discussions/talks on mental health issues

I have so much admiration for Prince Harry who is a staunch supporter of persons trying to cope with mental illness (‘You have to talk about your mental health’: Prince Harry to young Singaporeans” Channel NewsAsia; June 5, 2017).

Generally, there is a lack of empathy and understanding in society towards the mentally ill, and people, especially Asians, feel uncomfortable to discuss mental health issues. It is rare that a family member will speak candidly of their loved one grappling with a mental health condition. This unwillingness to be associated with mental illness is perhaps understandable given the social stigma within the community towards such conditions.

Many people do not realise that prolonged armed conflicts, terrorism and the succession of horrific natural disasters have and will trigger traumas that will make it difficult to cure in many survivors. If mental illness is not properly managed, it will rip families apart, and the suicide rate is bound to go up. Sadly, all too soon, the mentally ill will be viewed at a burden to society.

For a member of the royal family like Prince Harry who has openly spoken about his sadness over his late mother’s tragic accident, and for a staunch advocate of the mentally ill, we should heed his advice and be brave enough to talk about mental health issues at various platforms – at the workplace, in schools, at religious gatherings and even in Parliament.

To this end, I suggest that mental health topics be raised through talks at the office every quarter or better still every month. Why wait only until October every year during the world mental health day celebrations to talk on mental health issues? Invite professionals as well as experienced caregivers who have walked the journey to share their success stories with the objectives of raising more awareness of mental health issues – and to motivate and inspire everyone to accept that such conditions will be part and parcel of an increasingly urban lifestyle.

I agree wholeheartedly with Prince Harry that ‘social media, the Internet, and everything else, a lot of false realities are thrown down young people’s throats.”

There is a misconception that persons with mental illness do not have economic value. This is so wrong because there are many success stories of people with such conditions who have contributed much to society. And we can take the cue from Prince Harry who rightly pointed out that when talking about mental health issues, it does not necessary have to be a sad story.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Educate parents on child abuse through teachers-parents meetings

Like many readers and netizens, I was very upset that a young crying child was beaten by her parents in Jurong West – as described in the report “Police called in over parents hitting child with cane and tree branch” (The New Paper, May 20, 2017). It was so pitiful seeing the young girl pleading with the parents not to beat her. As the mother hit her, the girl tried to snatch away the cane.

It is natural for parents to want their children to excel in their studies, but fear of failure should never be instilled in young minds as they will hate going to school.

Fortunately, the abuse of the young girl was captured on video and the matter brought to the attention of the police. But what would have happened if this incident was not highlighted on social media? Will the child have to suffer in silence?

The good news is that after the police spoke to her, the mother was remorseful.

Parents need to be mindful that the run-up to examinations often sees children getting little jittery, and some may fall into what is known as ‘test anxiety’. The chances of test anxiety can also be increased if the child already suffers from social anxiety. In this particular incident, the young girl must have felt all alone.

Parents must be made to understand that abuse of any sort can cause psychological problems for kids who cannot cope. As long as their kids study hard, do not neglect their homework and do their best, parents must show understanding and support.

I believe all schools have regular teachers-parents’ meetings, so this will be an opportune time to advise parents on disciplining their children in the right way. Counsellors and the police can also be invited at this platform to talk on the dangers of child abuse and give proper guidance on bringing out the best in children.

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is already treating young children who are unable to cope with their studies. Do we really want to increase the workload at IMH?

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Network of support and shared real life experiences on overcoming depression and suicide effective in saving lives

It was heart-wrenching to read the report on the mother who jumped to death while holding on to her child (“Mum who jumped to death with newborn had post-partum depression: Coroner”; May 10, 2017 TODAY Newspaper).

Ii is never for women –they have menstrual periods every month where some of them have cramps in their stomach; and when they have menopause, they have moody swings and get irritable. Added to that, when women are in the family way, as with the case of Ms Koh Suan Ping, they may go through Postpartum Depression. Their male partners must fully understand all these issues so that they are given adequate protection against the challenges they face.

After they give birth, women could experience physical changes and emotional issues as follows:

Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the woman’s body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by her thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave the mother feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.

Emotional issues. When the woman is deprived of sleep and overwhelmed, she may have trouble handling even minor problems which in other times she can handle easily. She may be anxious about her ability to take care of her newborn.

Like many types of mental illness, education on postpartum depression is also necessary to prevent the loss of life – be it for the mother or her child.

With the government’s on-going efforts to encourage singles to get married and reproduce themselves to meet the falling birthrate, it is crucial to adopt a slew of measures to tackle postnatal depression and prevent suicide.

To ensure that women who are in the family way have better coping mechanisms, there is a dire need for gynecologists to team up with counsellors and social workers to educate women on postpartum depression and then take the opportunity to find out if they have any problems which they are unable to cope with. It would also be useful to educate the spouse or other family members on postpartum depression where printed information can be handed out.

Sharing experiences with those who have walked the journey can make a huge difference in reclaiming or saving a life. In the Yio Chu Kang constituency where I live, talks by professionals are being held on dementia and depression in the ‘Reaching Out’ seminars.

But what would be most useful is for resilient caregivers who have walked the journey and overcome depression and suicide to share their life experiences and coping mechanisms with the audience. Their experiences must be valued.

Religious groups can also rally around expectant mothers to provide unflagging support.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Singapore online users are world’s ninth worst internet pirates

The ranking is based on the number of visits to piracy sites as a ratio to the country’s Internet-user population. — File pic.

SINGAPORE, May 5 — Despite having an abundance of content options such as Netflix and Spotify, online users in Singapore are the ninth-worst internet pirates in the world, a report has found.

London-based tech firm Muso found that each internet user here visited piracy sites 180 times last year, on average. Singapore is the only non-European country in the top 10 list.

Belarus is the most rampant in accessing illegal content, with each user visiting such sites 284 times, followed by Lithuania (269) and Georgia (243).

The ranking is based on the number of visits to piracy sites as a ratio to the country’s internet-user population.

Data was culled from more than 23,000 of the highest-traffic sites globally, covering over 200 million devices, including desktops and mobile devices, in more than 220 countries.

The forms of online piracy covered include Web streaming, Web downloads, public and private torrents, and stream ripping.

Streaming formed the lion’s share of illegal access to content, followed by public torrent sites and Web download.

Muso — which deals in anti-piracy solutions for the film, TV, music and publishing industries — tracked 191 billion visits to piracy sites overall last year, which translates to around 53 visits per internet user.

These figures do not include data from China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea because the firm’s domain coverage for these locations was not complete during the period of the study, Muso said.

In terms of absolute numbers, the United States is tops, accounting for 20 billion visits to piracy sites, the Muso report stated. However, this translates to just nearly 71 visits per internet user there.

Back in 2015, a survey commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore found that fewer people here consider it a crime to download online content from illegal sources or engage in unauthorised file sharing, compared with four years earlier.

About one in two respondents, or 54.9 per cent, viewed downloading from unauthorised sources as theft, down from some three in four (or 77.8 per cent) in 2010.

Common reasons for online intellectual property (IP) rights infringements cited by respondents in that survey include convenience and unwillingness to pay for content. — TODAY.

Open up a few polyclinics after office hours and on public holidays to reduce the workload on the ambulance services

It is rather alarming that the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) had to attend to 81,686 calls between January and June this year – a 7.4 per cent increase over the same period last year (“Ambulance calls surge with ageing population”; The Straits Times, Thursday 3rd May 2017).

Most certainly it is worrying that 4 percent or 3,453 were non-emergency calls while the rest of the calls were false alarms.

Everyone has to understand that the SCDF have to attend to several emergencies that includes fighting fires, attending to accidents on our busy roads and even rescuing people who are suicidal. With their mission to save and reclaims lives, it is crucial that the services of the SCDF is not misused.

For those who abuse the SCDF officers in one way or the other or make prank calls, they must be taken to task, counselled, and if need be made to do some sort of community work. We must never alllow precious lives to be placed in jeopardy on account of abusers.

These days people get unduly worried when they or their loved ones fall ill or have accidents at home which can easily be attended to by GPs in clinics or at emergency units in private or public hospitals.  But many are unwilling to pay for the extra medical fees incurred.

To help reduce the number of SCDF services, it would help if a handful of polyclinics offer medical services after office hours and on public holidays in the different districts/zones to attend to non-emergency cases. Locum doctors can be hired for this purpose, with patients paying an additional $2-$3 for this special service.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Aggressive woman under severe stress, probably not in the correct frame of mind, needs treatment

Like many people, I was disturbed and shocked to see the video and to read the report of the violent woman who abused the staff at the spectacle shop Owndays in Tiong Bahru Plaza “Woman arrested after hitting shop employees at Tiong Bahru Plaza” (April 4).

However, those who have some understanding of psychological issues will feel that the woman in question was not in the correct frame of mind during her outbursts. In my view, she needs treatment as she could be going through severe stress, unable to cope with life’s challenges, and might just be having a mental disorder that has probably gone untreated.

I have much admiration for the staff who were abused physically and verbally as retaliation could only have resulted in more damaging incidents.

Many psychiatrists and other healthcare workers, particularly those working in emergency or acute care settings, have reported direct experiences with aggressive and violent behaviour among those trying to cope with overwhelming stress.

Aggression can take on a number of different forms such as verbal communication through yelling at another individual, or physically by engaging in some type of physical violence. Aggression can be direct behaviors such as hitting, kicking, biting, and pushing, just to name a few.

Ailments that influence aggressive behavior often also have psychological, cognitive, and physical symptoms.

It is a mistake to leave aggression untreated as it can lead to serious complications and permanent physical, legal and psychological ramifications.

Conditions which can lead to aggression include brain tumors and closed head injuries. Some of these disorders may include bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

I have read the comments by netizens on social media and it is such a sad state of affairs that such things are taking place.

Professionals can help the woman by getting to the root of her problems and finding out her family background for I have every confidence that with medication, counselling and structural support from grassroots leaders who are being trained in mental health education, she can go on to lead a normal life.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Mischief makers must be taken to task and counselled for causing alarm

At a time when terrorism is on the rise and efforts on the part of the government and our security personnel are being made to ensure that our citizens live and work in a safe environment, the alleged mischief caused by the 69-year-old man in placing a baking powder at the Woodleigh MRT station must never be condoned (“Man arrested after using baking flour to mark running trail”; The New Paper, April,19).

With thousands of commuters taking public transport every day, people must be able to travel about with peace of mind. Moreover, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) have their hands full in having to attend to emergencies like fighting fires, accidents and saving lives. Such resources are precious and should never be abused.

The law must therefore come down hard on the alleged offender and the two other suspects with a clear message: That putting fear in the public is not a game, and that repeats of such offences might make some people mistakenly believe that it is not for real. Then what happens when there is really a bomb scare? Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?

Nonetheless, it is heartening to note that our men in blue and the SCDF take every incident seriously and leave nothing to chance.

Following police investigations into the incident, local running group Seletar Hash House Harriers had apologised on Wednesday (Apr 19) for causing alarm and inconvenience in Tuesday’s (Apr 18) security scare at Woodleigh MRT station.

The group said in a press release that three of its members were marking a trail for a run scheduled for Tuesday evening.

In all seriousness, can all this be forgotten over an apology?

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Magnanimous of MediaCorp’s Radio GOLD 90.5 FM to pay the bills of shoppers

If anyone were to ask me to pick my all-time favourite song, I would most certainly pick Glen Campbell’s smash hit ‘Try a little kindness’. The lyrics bear an important message – the willingness to extend a helping hand to those in need.

And this virtue of showing kindness was so well carried out by the fantastic Deejays of our popular radio station Gold 90.5FM during their recent unique project of Making Someone’s Day. It was so encouraging seeing the DJs helping to pay the grocery bills of complete strangers that brought on big smiles from the shoppers as well as tears of joy from those who were deeply touched by compassion and kindness. I guess in a certain way, Christmas came early for the lucky shoppers who benefitted from the kindness shown by the radio station.

It is always good to emulate programmes that support the community. The station decided to carry out this project after they were inspired by a group of friends from Oklahoma City who started the ‘Fill My Basket’ initiative. By paying it forward, GOLD 90.5FM has clearly demonstrated that MediaCorp can be a great corporate citizen. For even as I watch the TV show RenovAID, I can see that that our national broadcaster has taken much pains and effort to bring happiness to those who live in the shadows of life.

To save on costs, many of our seniors will shop at NTUC FairPrice on Mondays and Tuesdays where discounts are given.

With the growing need for better support for our silvered haired citizens, this initiative on the part of the radio station, I hope, will inspire other organisations and radio stations worldwide to step forward and do their part as responsible corporate citizens. Perhaps, Gold 90.5FM could ride on this programme and through collaborations with the grassroots leaders, identify isolated and lonely citizens and bring some basic groceries to them twice a year. The joys that is bound to come on their faces could be a motivating factor for the station and the sponsors to consider the proposal.

For at the heart of making Singapore the best home to live in, it will help if successful companies do their part to give a ray of hope to those in need.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

Mom has a special place in my heart

Every morning at around 6.30am when I go to church to pray at the columbarium where my late wife’s ashes lie, I have observed a mother in her 30s bringing her two young children to the bus stop where she will wait with them until their bus arrives, then wave to them, at times throwing a motherly flying kiss.

At other times, I have seen mothers carry the heavy school bags of their kids and helping them up the bus. Indeed, a mother’s love is often like no other – and such virtues brings fond memories of the good ole’ days in the 50s’ when my mother, now aged 92 used to wake up at the crack of dawn, prepare breakfast for myself and my 5 other siblings, and then bringing the younger ones to school.

During her late 40s, my mother Mrs Pearl Fernando had to struggle in taking care of her 6 children after my dad left her. As a single mother, mom sacrificed some of her meals for us, took on part-time work and went out of her way to make sure all of her six children received a proper education.

Mom is currently residing in a Catholic Nursing Home and she needs lots of emotional support and understanding as the Parkinson’s disease (PD) that she is trying to cope with can often see her experiencing mood changes, irritability and repeating things.

Not everyone will fully understand such behavioral changes, and this is why those who have experiences in taking care of a loved one with mental illness must share their useful caregiver tips. This I do with the sincerity of my heart for it was mom’s guiding light that was instrumental in paving the way for me to provide unconditional love to my late wife for 4 decades and to all others trying to cope with mental health issues.

Happy Mother’s Day 2017, mom, you will always have a place in my and my siblings’ hearts.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

 

NEA and her volunteers can help promote graciousness at hawker centres

Public pressure on the police to take action on the abuse has resulted in the couple being arrested “Police arrest two for Toa Payoh hawker centre dispute” (The New Paper, April 27)

Often people will resort to airing abuses through the internet and social media to ensure swift action is taken against what they deem as unfair treatment and bullying tactics.

I have observed time and again that patience and graciousness is sadly lacking among many of us – be it on the roads and in the community. Like thousands who viewed the video of the young couple allegedly abusing the elderly man who wanted to have his meal at a table, I am also shocked at the alleged offensive language and force against the elderly man.

Those who ill-treat the elderly must be made aware that sooner or later we will all get old and would we be happy if we are abused or shown disrespect when age catches up on us?

These days some people so easily lose patience and this will likely become more intense as the population rises in the years ahead. Filming an ugly incident such as this one that has gone viral does not help to promote our society as a gracious and caring one. What will the tourists think of us?

Perhaps, the video could have first be routed to government agencies like the police, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Environment Agency for investigation.

Clearly, discipline, graciousness and showing kindness to one another must be stepped up.

The Singapore Mass Transit Authority (SMRT) has been proactive and have deployed their staff at all MRT stations during peak hours to ensure that passengers line up in an orderly manner, and they constantly remind everyone to give way to alighting passengers. Thus, queuing up at stations has been ingrained in all passengers.

I have witnessed some younger passengers tapping the shoulders of the elderly to offer their seats when they see seniors standing in crowed trains. I have been fortunate to experience such kindness, although there will still be youthful passengers who will ‘pretend’ to sleep when they see an elderly person right in front of them who could well do with a seat. At the end of the day, it all boils down to attitude and upbringing.

So why not emulate the work of the SMRT? To this end, the National Environment Agency (NEA) could bring in their staff and her volunteers to promote graciousness at popular hawker centres during peak periods so that gradually fine dining, even if it is with strangers makes it a pleasure to have a meal at these food centres.

While the NEA has stepped up enforcement on littering and fined people for throwing cigarette butts, it also a bigger role to play – in ensuring that diners stop this bad habit of reserving seats, and making sure our seniors are not bullied or abused in any way.

Bottom line: Let’s dine with graciousness so as to allow our manners to shine

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

raymond-still

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.