Destigmatising mental illness and changing lives

Nurul Azliah Aripin
Nurul Azliah Aripin
Singapore Association for Mental Health educates the public on mental health matters through talks and workshops. (Photo from SAMH Facebook page)

Mental illness can be cured and thinking otherwise would be one of the major misconceptions that the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) wants to eradicate.

It joins other skewed perceptions such as, mental illness is contagious, or that people with mental illness are dangerous and violent.
 
But the truth is, says SAMH, mental illnesses cannot be transmitted via any form of contact and violence may occur when a patient is seriously ill, which rarely happens.
 
The voluntary welfare organisation, which is non-profit and non-government funded, was established in 1968.
 
It was established with the aim of improving public perception of people with mental health. The organisation also wants to get rid of the social stigma that surrounds people with mental health problems, whom they strive to empower.
 
Mainly, SAMH educates the public on mental health matters through talks and workshops.
 
As for those with mental illness — including those who have depression, are bipolar or have  schizophrenia — SAMH takes a multi-pronged approach when helping them.
 
The organisation offers counseling and hosts a peer support group.
 
To help them integrate better into mainstream society, the mentally ill can also visit any of the six SAMH activity centres to work on their social, personal and vocational skills.
 
For caregivers, programmes such as Family Link Program and Caregiver Support Group help equip caregivers – who are mainly family members – with the knowledge and skills necessary to care for those with mental illness.However, caregivers sometimes just need a friend to lend a listening ear.
 
And that's one of the things volunteers at SAMH have been providing. Volunteers also provide ad-hoc assistance during events, in the form of transport services, moving services and the manning of stalls at fairs.

To help visit http://www.samhealth.org.sg/volunteers.php.

The beneficiary and Voluntary Welfare Organisation featured in this article has been assisted by the National Council of Social Service and Community Chest

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