The importance of treating mental health patients with compassion
With every patient our doctors meet, we make it a point to focus on both “health” and “care”.
The medical profession typically emphasises the “health” aspect of healthcare. We believe it is equally important to show compassion and empathy towards our patients to fulfill the “care” part of the profession. While these principles are applied towards all our patients, there is one group of patients in particular that require much more tender, loving care – mental health patients.
When we get calls to assist those with mental diseases, most of the time these patients require specialist care for cases such as suicide ideation or schizophrenia management. In such situations, our doctors go the extra mile in helping them and their family members by referring the patient to specialist care, with as much compassion and respect as they would towards those suffering from physical conditions.
Simple, yet impactful actions can go a long way in caring for mental health patients. For example, when a schizophrenic patient had a breakdown and refused to take the ambulance to the hospital, our Speedoc doctor got into a Grab car with her instead to help keep her calm. In another situation, we had to transport a patient with Down’s Syndrome who had severe abdominal pains to the hospital. Unfortunately, she was afraid of moving vehicles. So, our doctor gave her a Winnie the Pooh toy to distract her and personally drove her to the hospital himself.
As there is still a stigma in society when it comes to mental disorders, many people remain unsure how they should treat sufferers. The answer is simple – with as much compassion as you would towards any other person. We strongly believe it is important for the entire community to work together so that patients with mental diseases can receive the healthcare they need.
As a mobile medicine provider, we travel to all corners of Singapore to treat patients from all walks of life and who are suffering from a wide variety of conditions. This is important because the prevalence of mental illness is on the rise. A recent Straits Times article reported the latest findings from the Singapore Mental Health Study 2016, which found that one in seven people in Singapore have had a mental disorder in their lifetime. This is an increase from roughly one in eight found in the previous study in 2010.
With this number set to increase, it is essential that the healthcare community, as well as society at large, learns to work towards helping people with mental disorders. Kind gestures such as being understanding towards their actions and offering support in any way possible will go a long way. Within the healthcare system, every player has the responsibility to go the extra mile beyond prescribing medicine or solving symptoms of mental illness. If each individual regards mental health patients as an individual, and not just as a patient with symptoms to cure, we will go a long way in making our society a more inclusive and welcoming place for them.