Let's rally around those with mental illness

I agree with Miss Lee Kay Yan that labelling people with mental illness and calling the police instead of linking up with the Institute of Mental Health is not the right approach to destigmatising mental illness (Be empathetic towards anyone with mental illness; Sept 20).

Even though it is a mammoth task to completely eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness, a national effort that involves healthcare agencies, the criminal justice system, the police, employers, schools, religious groups, recovered patients, resilient caregivers as well as the media can help a great deal in helping persons with mental illness gain acceptance in society.

Given that mental illness is affecting many people here, it would be timely to carry out large-scale surveys to track people's beliefs on mental illness.

What we need is a holistic approach and ongoing education on mental illness that reaches out to the masses and is supported by all our mental health providers, the Agency of Integrated Care and the National Council of Social Service.

It must be clearly understood that mental illness is treatable with medication, counselling and psychotherapy.

Together with good support from an enlightened community, loving caregivers, and employers who offer jobs to recovered patients, there is an excellent chance that persons with mental illness can integrate back into society and live happy and meaningful lives.

World Mental Health Day is on Oct 10.

Let us rally around persons with mental illness here in Singapore and around the world to raise more awareness on mental health issues and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.

Raymond Anthony Fernando