Yes, let’s. The article “Let’s find out more about mental illness” published in Straits Times, 16 Nov 2013, talks about childhood mental health disorders, and specifically, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
It’s timely, given that understanding about mood and anxiety disorders involving adults tends to be poor, let alone mental health disorders involving children and adolescents. And it’s a good time as any to talk about mental health disorders, especially in the light of recent news reports involving individuals with depression.
But what is it that we understand about mental health disorders? From the resources made available to various organizations dealing with mental health issues, quite a lot actually.
But first, maybe we should know at least a few things worth knowing:
1. Stigma is everywhere, not just in Singapore.
But these are ubiquitous issues, relevant to other communities such as those in UK (“Understanding anxiety and mental health stigma”, The Guardian, 27 Sep 2013), Australia (“Mental health stigma still affecting Australian workers, with research showing 4 in 10 hide depression from their employers”, ABC, 12 Nov 2013), Canada (“Montrealers demonstrate to end mental health stigma”, CBC, 20 Oct 2013), Hong Kong (“First mental health web radio in Hong Kong raises the community’s awareness on mental illness and mental health”, UHK, 15 Nov 2013), and Taiwan (“Society must confront mental health stigma, redefine success”, The China Post, 3 June 2013).
We may not have progressed very far (“S’poreans fear mental patients, study finds”, Straits Times, 29 Oct 2007), but at least we’re increasingly cognizant of the issues and are adding to facts not fiction.
This Huffington Post article provides 3 helpful suggestions for how you and I can make a difference. The UK campaign which started in 2009 to end mental health discrimination at their www.time-to-change.org.uk offers useful tips on how to talk about mental health issues.
2. There are resources out there for the public.
- Silver Ribbon provides facts about a comprehensive list of mental health disorders.
- WHO offers 10 facts that everyone should know about mental health.
- Health Promotion Board has information on depression, generalised anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, and schizophrenia.
3. There’s information about mental health disorders in children and adolescents.
- NAMI provides information on anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, and depression in children and adolescents, self-harm in young adults, and teen suicide.
- NIH (US) provides information on anxiety, bipolar disorders, depression,
- The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides facts for families of children with mental health disorders.
4. Other resources include information about developmental disorders.
- Facts about dyslexia are available at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore.
- Information for parents about dyspraxia is in this Metta Welfare newsletter.
- Speech-language difficulties are comprehensively covered in this KKH webpage.
- Extensive information about the various types of learning disabilities including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia is available at the US NCLD.
- Facts on ADHD and ADD are available at SPARK.
- Facts on autism and aspergers syndrome are available at the websites of Autism Resource Centre, the Autism Association, Autism Partnership, and KKH.
- Useful links for a comprehensive list of developmental disorders can be found at www.firstsigns.org.
5. We can always do more.
A 2012 report in the Singapore Annals Academy of Medicine did not investigate whether their stratified sample of 6616 respondents, among whom 12% met the criteria for mood, anxiety, or alcohol use disorders but less than a third had sought professional help, used the internet to find out more about mental health disorders. Given that the same report acknowledges 80% or more of the local population aged 49 years and below (and 40% of those aged 50 to 59 years) has internet access, there’s much scope for accurate information about mental health to be provided on an online platform. This BBC Wales health report presents possibilities, while the UK Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network offers ideas via a Tackling Stigma Toolkit. There are always more things that can be done. Something we can work towards perhaps?