Source: TODAY, 23 Sep 2005
Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness: it is vital to individuals, families and societies.
It is described by the World Health Organisation as:
"... a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of Individuals and communities.
According to the latest mental health study, one in ten people in Singapore will be stricken by mental illness in their lifetime and many are likely to face depression, the commonest mental illness here. It is projected to affect 170,000 adults, with more women affected than men. While mental illness starts occurring in most people in their 20s, two in three never seek help, and even those who eventually do take years to do so. Others may be affected by alcohol abuse or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety affliction characterised by obsessions, compulsive rituals, as well as intrusive thoughts and impulses.
Stigma that surrounds mental illness often prevents people from seeking treatment and the consequences of untreated mental illness can be shattering, leading to unnecessary disability, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and even suicide. Silver Ribbon (Singapore) believes that the earlier an illness is detected and treated, the better the treatment outcome.
Exactly what is stigma? Stigma means a mark or sign of shame, disgrace of disapproval, of being shunned or rejected by others. It emerges when people feel uneasy or embarrassed to talk about behaviour they perceive as different.
Discrimination and misconceptions remain among the most significant barriers to people with mental illness being able to actively participate in the community and gaining access to the services they need. Also, it is not only people with mental illness who experience discriminations and stigma. Rejection of people with mental illness inevitably spills over to the caregivers and family members.
Therefore, since its inception, Silver Ribbon (Singapore) organises mental health events regularly and commemorates World Mental Health Day annually, collaborating with local & overseas mental health organizations, consumers, caregivers, government agencies, grassroots organizations, religious groups, school institutions, voluntary welfare organizations and media to reach out to the community of all age groups through innovative means.