Help those with mental illness to return to work

DESPITE calls from various quarters to remove the stigma of mental illness ("'There's no shame in mental illness'"; May 10, and "My friend's tragic run of depression"; March 13), there is still no evidence of this unfair practice letting up any time soon.

A mental illness in a family is always hushed up.

In most cases, the patient is readily accepted back into the family upon discharge from hospital because of strong family bonds.

However, some patients are rejected by the very people whoare in the best position to help them reintegrate into society.

Family and friends might think that the patients do not have, or might have lost, the skills and knowledge for work, or just cannot hold down a job, and thus fail to give them much-needed encouragement and mental support.

The sad truth is that patients may lose their ability to think and reason in a logical manner, and to speak coherently during the acute phase of their illness and during relapses.

Also, certain serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, can cause the patient to downgrade from a higher-paying and demanding job to a more mundane job with simple procedures, such as routine factory work.

Often, with treatment, patients are able to regain their former abilities to varying degrees. They, too, have their own skill set, which waits to be discovered if only they are given the chance to bloom.

There have been efforts made to tap the talents of prison inmates. If they can be given a second chance in life, then more opportunities should also be accorded to people who have recovered sufficiently from mental illnesses to acquire and develop the required job skills.

More companies should come forth to work closely with the Institute of Mental Health to provide much-needed training and employment for people with mental illnesses.

These people have done nothing wrong.

Hence, they should not be forced to carry the burden of their illness all their life.

This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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