The National Library Board commemorated World Mental Health Day 2011 with artwork displays and resource corners.
Contributed By Lim Bijia
The friend battling an eating disorder, the family member wallowing in depression, or the colleague on the verge of a nervous breakdown … chances are, many of us have crossed paths with somebody struggling with a mental health issue. The sad truth is, unlike physical ailments, where the symptoms are often more observable and thus more easily diagnosed and treated, early symptoms of mental illnesses often go unnoticed.
It is frequently either the result of the stigma of being “mentally unwell” or the lack of awareness that exacerbates the problem for the sufferer and prevents him or her from seeking early treatment.
In conjunction with World Mental Health Day, the National Library Board, in collaboration with Silver Ribbon (Singapore), embarked on a joint initiative to raise public awareness about mental health.
On Oct. 9, the NLB launched WMHD corners at 23 of its public libraries. The corners feature resources on mental health and wellness showcasing the respective libraries’ collections on the topic, and will run for the entire month of October.
Additionally, art works created by patients with mental conditions will be displayed at four libraries, namely Jurong West Public Library, Marine Parade Public Library, Central Public Library and Jurong Regional Library for a year, with effect from January 2012.
The launch was graced by Mrs. Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs. Elaine Ng, the chief executive officer of NLB and Dr. Lee Cheng, the vice-president of Silver Ribbon. The ceremony was kicked off by Dr. Lee Cheng, who gave a short speech outlining the importance of World Mental Health Day.
In her speech, Ng explained the decision to use art as one of the platforms for raising awareness. “Art is a good outlet for patients to express themselves freely, and we hope that by providing this platform, it will encourage them to develop their talents and have an opportunity to give back to society in their own ways,” she said.
Teo engaged the audience through sharing her own experiences with a colleague who suffered from mental disorder. Her personal anecdotes effectively highlighted not only the difficulties an individual might have in trying to help somebody mentally ill, but also the sense of gratification one feels when he or she successfully pulls somebody out of the woods. She also reminded the audience that although it is true that there are some very severe forms of mental illness that necessitate the treatment of a mental health professional, there are also subtler, yet more pervasive strains of mental disorders that can benefit from the attention of concerned friends and family members.
An eating disorder can lead to serious health complications and ultimately death; depression can lead to suicide; mental and emotional exhaustion can lead to a nervous breakdown. Sometimes, all it takes is somebody who knows enough and cares enough, to lead a friend or family member away from that path of destruction on to the road of recovery.