Help mentally ill neighbours cope: MP Tin Pei Ling

Neighbours of people with mental conditions - particularly those with conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and depression - should do their best to look out for them, an MP said yesterday.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said at a mental health event: "They already struggle to cope with their conditions so we should try to make their lives a little easier and remove the stigma of mental illness."

Earlier this year, she mooted the idea of pooling resources and expertise to spot and deal with people with mental conditions in her MacPherson ward.

Under a pilot programme, community leaders and volunteers from self-help groups in the area will be trained to identify the mentally distressed and get them help quickly.

Over six to eight sessions to be conducted from next month until early next year, participants will learn to identify symptoms like memory loss and aggressive behaviour.

The scheme is the result of a partnership between the South East Community Development Council, which Ms Tin's ward belongs to, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and the Institute of Mental Health.

About one in three residents in the MacPherson ward is aged above 50. Dr Tan Weng Mooi, who heads AIC's community mental health division, said: "When you have the proper knowledge, then you know how to work around the issue, not just shun them or send them away."

jermync@sph.com.sg