It was supposed to be a day for my father’s routine check. My father, 83, is suffering from Organic Brain Syndrome. Upon arrival, I stepped into a very crowded clinic where physically, it was impossible to walk a further step in. I realised there were more patients in the room (clinic) than my previous visit which was three months ago. However, the clinic space size is the same. In that overcrowded space were patients on wheelchairs and strollers, school-aged children to senior citizens, nurses, doctors, etc. There was a lot of noise in the overcrowded clinic making everyone feel very unsettled. Nurses were having to shout out patients’ names amidst crying and screaming patients who were obviously very disturbed by being in this packed clinic. There was no place to sit or walk. I waited over an hour without sitting down like many others but felt very upset to see other visibly frail visitors having to stand as well.
This clinic is meant for psychiatric patients but the clinic’s environment is a hazard for them.
I personally felt terribly stressed whilst waiting there. It drained me mentally, waiting in that clinic and I wondered how a mentally ill person would cope.
In recent years, media using research data have shown that statistics are showing an exponential increasing trend on the numbers of psychiatric patients in all age groups. The reasons are varied but mental health issues are currently a global phenomenon we have to come to grips with. Stress, depression leading to suicide, self-harm and violent outbreaks are common these days. We need to support and take good care of people who acknowledge their mental health problem. When they take the bold step of seeking help, the least we could do is make it a pleasant experience so that they continue to get the support they need. If not, it is the community that suffers at the end as supporting them after a violent rampage (which commonly is the case on most of these crimes we read in the media) is too late. Thankfully, majority of the mental illnesses do not pose any harm to anyone other than the sufferer, but it is time we give them minimally the right clinical environment to seek help.
We should show gratitude to our doctors and nurses in the Psychiatry Department. A job that earns little materially, with a high risk of being attacked. One that few could do unless they have the dedication demanded for this job. However, the positive impact these healthcare workers are making on the lives of the patients and their families are immense. For this reason, my hats off to them and thank you for your great job.