Associate Professor Chua Hong Choon,
Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Mental Health,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here to celebrate the 8th Occupational Therapists’ Day in IMH, as well as to launch BizLink Café.
Three years ago, I launched the IMH’s Job Club, a one-stop service that helps persons with mental illness secure jobs.
I am heartened to note that three years on, the collaboration between the community and industry partners to reintegrate persons with mental illness into the workplace is doing well. However, we still have a lot of work to do as employment opportunities for those who are mentally ill are still very limited. Without employment, their recovery process will be affected. Without a job and a stable income their sense of self-worth will be affected and it is also difficult for them to support their medical needs.
Enabling Change through Collaboration
The theme of today’s event is enabling change through collaboration, an important reminder to us that only when everyone do their part, individuals, employers and organizations, will we see real progress in helping the disadvantaged, such as those who are mentally ill.
I am sure that organisations and employers who have come on board this scheme, have enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that you have truly made a difference to the lives of others.
I am told that IMH had formally set up its vocational training programme in 2005. Currently, there are four different vocational training programmes available in IMH, namely administration, cleaning, F & B, and retail. IMH chooses to focus on these sectors as it is a lot easier for recovered patients to find work due to the ample opportunities available and the flexibility that the jobs offer. Organisations who have partnered IMH for such vocational training include Red Shield Industries, which comes under The Salvation Army, and also ISS Facility Services. We need to expand the number of training programmes and training providers so that more people can be trained and placed in meaningful jobs.
The Rewards of Helping the Mentally Ill
It is not easy to help the mentally ill. The recovery process can be challenging for both employer and the mental healthcare professionals involved in their care. Occupational therapists are trained rehabilitation professionals who are able to assess a patients’ functional capacity and tailor therapeutic programmes to help them overcome challenges and maximise their potential. Today, we recognize and celebrate the role played by our occupational therapists in helping our mentally ill to recover. Occupational therapists are indeed important members of the psychiatric team.
Launching of Bizlink Cafe
In a short while, we will be launching the BizLink Café. I understand that the tagline for the Café is “Good food for a great cause”, as it is a platform for recovering patients to engage in F & B vocational training.
I would like to commend BizLink, as well as all the other partners and employers involved in this project. Together, you have brought positive changes for these patients, and I urge you to persevere in this worthy endeavour. I also urge the public to support this cause by patronizing the Bizlink Café.
As I said earlier, everyone of us have a part to play. It could be in helping to break down the stereotypes and stigma of mental illness by not talking about it in a derogatory manner, hiring persons with mental illness if you are an employer with suitable positions to offer or simply supporting them if you know of someone in the community who is struggling with mental health problems. Co-workers too have a very important role to play in supporting and mentoring those who are mentally ill.
On this note, I thank you. I am confident that with everyone playing a part, we can become a truly compassionate and caring society, where even the mentally ill has a place. Thank you.