In a recent opinion column for The Straits Times, Theresa Tan emphasises the need to provide ample care and support for the people who care for those with mental health needs. These caregivers are themselves in need of care, or they can develop their own issues with depression, anxiety, or anger.

Misplaced Shame and Guilt

One family fell into disarray after the mother gave birth to a boy with autism. The young woman’s mother-in-law blamed her, adding to the woman’s own guilt. She wondered if she had done something wrong, something that caused her son’s mental condition. Her husband stayed out late driving his taxi, not only to earn money but to get a break from the situation at home.

Despair over Autistic Behaviour

The entire family went vegetarian, thinking that the change in diet might help the autistic boy. However, the behaviour associated with the condition continued. The boy couldn’t communicate effectively or understand others beyond a certain level. He would scratch, bang doors, and perform other ritual habits. Sometimes, the family could not stand it any longer and caned him to try to control the behaviour.
In the face of the grief, challenges, guilt, and confusion, the boy’s mother became severely depressed. Fortunately, the family was able to get help from staff at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre, where the boy now attends school with others who share similar struggles.

The Grief of Parents

Other families like this one can crumble apart under the weight of caring for a child with mental challenges. Parents often carry the burden of guilt, even if the child’s condition isn’t their fault. They also grieve for the death of the dreams that they had for that child, for the loss of potential and possibilities. They struggle to communicate and to work with their child on a daily basis.

One experienced special needs worker, June Tham, explains, “When a child is diagnosed, it’s the loss of their hopes and dreams for the child. Parents would ask, ‘Why me? What did I do wrong? Will my child have a future?’ ”

The Risk of Harm

Sometimes, mothers have to quit their promising careers in order to stay home and care for a special needs child. With increased levels of stress and discouragement, these women can become depressed, resulting in harm to themselves or their children. In one case, a woman became convinced that her 7-year-old autistic son was the cause of her despair, weariness, and failing marriage. She shoved him out the window of their ninth floor flat, killing him.

The Available Sources of Support

Instead of letting emotions get to this level, seek help from a local centre in Singapore that provides support for caregivers. Thanks to a new government program, a Disability Caregiver Support Centre is in the works for Singapore, and there are also groups such as the Down Syndrome Association and St. Andrew’s Autism Centre. You can also find care and support at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, where expert Singapore psychiatrists offer treatment and therapy for people suffering from depression, despair, anxiety, and dark thoughts. Look for help today and learn how to improve your life as a caregiver.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: The Straits Times, 5 April 2017