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Do more to help mentally ill

TOC received the following letter, which is also published in Mypaper on Dec 21.

by Raymond Anthony Fernando

stock photo

The recent case of a middle-age woman - reported to be mentally ill - who boarded an SBS Transit bus while naked is worrying.

The Chinese woman, who is in her 50s, removed her clothese at a bus stop in Ubi last Wednesday and boarded bus service 22. Police officers later arrived and arrested her.

In the last six months, there have been 105 incidents of people “parading” around naked while in public.

There have also been tragedies involving persons with mental illness. This is a cause for concern.

It was equally disturbing to read about onlookers who seized the opportunity to take photos and capture video clips of the woman while she was naked.

They should be ashamed of themselves. Let us not forget that the woman could be someone's sister, mother or daughter.

A tough stand needs to be taken against people who humiliate the mentally ill. This is where the Mental Capacity Act should be enforced.

A woman's modesty should be protected at all costs. I am glad that the bus driver stopped the bus promptly and took steps to ensure that the naked woman was shielded. He should be commended.

People who are mentally ill are often left to fend for themselves because it is a daunting task to care for them.

In view of the rising number of people who are unable to cope with stress, there is a dire need to foster support and compassion for the mentally ill, as they do not have a sense of belonging in a society that is focussed on achieving economic excellence.

I suggest that a high-level committee - comprising staff from the Singapore Police Force, mental-health providers and related ministries - be formed to resolve the problems that give rise to these marginalised citizens, who undoubtedly need to live in dignity.

Staff from the town councils and grassroots leaders could also be roped in to tackle these problems, which often take place in our housing estates.

With Christmas just around the corner, let us bear in mind that the mentally ill are also God's children, and they need love, understanding, and support - just like any one of us.

The writer also keeps a blog, Ray of Light, in which he writes about issues facing the mentally ill and their caregivers.