Caritas RoundTable V: Lighting up Lives
On 11 November 2017, Caritas Singapore and Clarity Singapore jointly organised Caritas RoundTable V “Lighting up Lives” to inform, consult, and build consensus among partners to tackle the key issues faced by persons with mental illness.
The closed-door event drew a total of 61 participants comprising youths, youth parish committees, mental health service providers, academics, government bodies, and other key stakeholders. In a first, persons with mental illness were also present to share their experiences, give inputs on existing services and programmes, and co-create community solutions with other like-minded advocates.
Attendees had the privilege of hearing from four distinguished speakers: (1) Dr Wong Hon Khuan, Senior Resident Physician from the Department of Psychological Medicine, Changi General Hospital (CGH); (2) Mr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Service Planning and Development Group, National Council of Social Service; (3) Mr Fred Cordeiro, Executive Director of Clarity Singapore; and (4) Mr Chia Xun An, Undergraduate, Author and Advocate for Persons with Mental Health Challenges. They shared their experiences supporting persons with mental illness, upcoming plans for the mental health sector, as well as challenges faced by persons with mental illness.
During the breakout groups segment, resource experts also shared their knowledge and expertise to aid the attendees’ discussions on prejudice, workplace discrimination, caregiver stress, and advocacy for persons with mental illness. They were (1) Dr Wong Hon Khuan, (2) Mr Fred Cordeiro, (3) Dr Mythily Subramaniam, Director of Research at the Institute of Mental Health, (4) Ms Christine Wong, Executive Director of Samaritans of Singapore, and (5) Ms Rita Haque, Caregiver leader and Director of Rita Haque Consultancy Singapore.
Attendees shared various ideas on how to best tackle the various issues at the community level. One idea was to create platforms for persons with mental illness to speak safety and comfortably about their conditions. Not only will the platform help to dispel stereotypes about mental illness, but also provide those with mental illness with the opportunity to self-advocate.
Another idea was for mental health stakeholders to come together to consolidate existing knowledge on the needs and gaps in the sector via an online platform. In this way, information is democratised and stays constantly relevant as long as partner organisations and individuals continue to contribute to it. A collective knowledge base will also be useful for the mental health sector’s strategic planning.
The Advocacy and Research team at Caritas Singapore hopes to continue this conversation by organising a follow-up meeting with interested collaborators in January 2018.
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