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Empower IMH to do more for mentally ill residents

It is perfectly understandable that residents at Block 55, Lorong 5 Toa Payoh, are worried about the bizarre behaviour displayed by their neighbour (Woman's antics spark fear among neighbours; Jan 7).

She has been splashing liquids outside her home, flinging burning items over the parapet and shouting loudly in the mornings.

I believe the womanhas a mental health issue which has gone untreated.

People with severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia mistakenly believe that they have been charmed or possessed.

For those struggling with schizophrenia, religious delusions or intense religious-based irrational thinking may be a component of their symptoms.

The most commonly reported form of hallucination is auditory, involving hearing voices when no one is there.

In order for mental illnesses to be properly managed and controlled, it is vital that early treatment is given.

In order for mental illnesses to be properly managed and controlled, it is vital that early treatment is given.

Long delays can only make it more difficult for professionals to stabilise the patient.

The current system does not allow the community psychiatric department of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to step in to help if the individual is not a patient of the hospital.

That needs to change, as we are bound to see more cases like the one in Toa Payoh, given our fast ageing population.

It may become necessary for the woman to be given involuntary or assisted treatment, and for IMH to be empowered, under the Mental Capacity Act, to handle such cases.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline 'Empower IMH to do more for mentally ill residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe