Mental illness is a disability too

Mental illness is a disability too

I APPLAUD SingTel for donating $1.1 million to develop innovative solutions to help people with disabilities in the new Social Innovation Hub, which will be set up next year ("New Social Innovation Hub to help the disabled"; last Wednesday).

SingTel is working closely with SG Enable - a government agency set up to offer services to people with disabilities - to develop the centre.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about people with disabilities.

Many members of the public recognise only those physically challenged.

But there is also a hidden disability - mental illness.

Disability is defined by experts as the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.

Through the five-year Enabling Masterplan, the Centre for Enabled Living has drawn up many programmes for people with physical disabilities, but there is not one programme for people with mental illness.

This was one of the concerns I had raised with the Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing during the Social Service Partners Conference on May 21. It did not resolve my concerns.

It is sad that people with mental illness and their caregivers do not receive the same level of support as those with physical disabilities and autism. How then can we call this an inclusive society?

SG Enable chief executive Ku Geok Boon had mentioned that people with disabilities and the community can come together at the Social Innovation Hub to spark new ideas and solutions.

I would like to ask whether SG Enable will include those with mental illness.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

This article was first published on July 28, 2014.
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