Facing stigma as a parent visiting IMH with an ill child

The stigma of having a child that visits the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is something that has always been at the back of Michelle’s mind and is something that no parent should have to face. She cannot help but feel like she and her son are being judged whenever she books a Grab or Taxi as she would have to put IMH as the destination.

Michelle has been accompanying her 16-year-old son, Ethan, to IMH for his sessions with a psychotherapist for over a year now and refers to the Family Room as a safe place where both her and Ethan can relax outside of the harsh, medical environment.

Ethan suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and has also been diagnosed with mild depression and anxiety. With his condition, Ethan may be seen as socially awkward, and one of Michelle’s biggest wishes is for Ethan to be able to socialise in a safe environment and eventually make friends.

Mental health and mental wellness have been a very current topic in Singapore, but when it comes to giving and showing support to mental health patients and their caregivers, there is still a long way to go.

“There is a lack of understanding in the general public on how to deal and cope with the issue of mental wellness and showing empathy towards the caregivers of such children,” says Michelle.

She is however, very grateful for what Ronald McDonald House Charities Singapore has done for her and her family since she started visiting IMH with Ethan.

Escape, Comfort and Food. These are three words that came to Michelle’s mind when we asked her about how she felt whenever she visits the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Institute of Mental Health.

“The Family Room provides a cosy and relaxing environment to unwind and breathe a little. It is a stark difference from the hard, plastic chairs of the waiting area just next door, and is a beacon of light for caregivers and their children alike.”

Michelle – mum of Ethan

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