Championing the mental health cause
Walk for Mental Wellness fund-raising campaign highlights challenges faced by patients, caregivers
Nine mental wellness advocates or champions - including Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and ex-Nominated Member of Parliament and social advocate Anthea Ong - along with 10 other teams of champions, are walking to raise awareness of mental health.
Organised by Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), the Walk for Mental Wellness fund-raising campaign also seeks to highlight the challenges faced by caregivers of people with mental health issues.
CAL hopes to raise at least $250,000, and each participant will walk or run 1km for every $100 raised between April 5 and May 3. Donations can be made through www.cal4mentalwellness.sg until June 30. Currently, the alliance has raised more than $187,000, and champions have walked over 350km altogether.
Caregivers have been benefiting from CAL's programmes and support.
Ms Jacqueline, 50, learnt how to cope with her mother's Alzheimer's disease after attending a Caregivers-to-Caregivers (C2C) training programme by CAL.
She told The New Paper: "I realised when I accept mum's condition and do not expect more of her, and do not act (out of fear) of her losing more of her memory, she functioned a whole lot better."
Ms Jacqueline, who quit her job to become a full-time caregiver, said CAL's support has made her feel less alone and that she now has help when she needs it.
Ms Syaira Osman cares for her mother, 50, who has schizophrenia and depression. The 23-year-old undergraduate said trauma and caregiver burnout are some "inevitable" problems if intervention is not prioritised.
She added: "The biggest struggle for me is finding that boundary between being a caregiver and (someone) with her own life goals. After taking the C2C classes, I could manage my expectations, and it was an awakening stage for me."
Ms Ong, 53, who has family members who are caregivers to people with mental health issues, has urged for better awareness of the well-being of caregivers in Parliament.
She said: "If there isn't a narrative out there talking about the caregivers, if their needs are not looked at, we might have another challenge at a systemic level."
Mr Tim Lee, CAL's executive director, said: "We hope our efforts contribute towards destigmatising the topic of mental illness and move us towards a place of inclusivity, understanding and acceptance of people with mental health issues and the people caring for them."