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Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
12-04-2014, 08:55 AM.
Post: #1
Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
This is a very grey area...

Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts

They call for more doctors, support in fighting stigma, raising awareness
Published on Apr 12, 2014
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Pte Ganesh had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but the medical officer where he was posted was not informed of this.

Pte Ganesh had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but the medical officer where he was posted was not informed of this.

Capt Goh, the officer in charge of Pte Ganesh did not do any research into schizophrenia. The coroner said she was “out of her depth”.

Dr Mogilan Mohan, the medical officer, was not informed of Pte Ganesh’s condition by his former unit, Kranji Camp.


By Lee Jian Xuan

MORE can be done to monitor and support national servicemen with mental health issues, according to two experts who used to work with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

These include fighting the stigma attached to such illnesses, raising awareness about mental health and having more in-camp psychiatrists.

Earlier this week, State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid delivered his findings on the death of Private Ganesh Pillay Magindren, who was found at the foot of his Sengkang condominium last July.

The 23-year-old had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which distorts a person's thoughts and emotions, causing him to lose touch with reality.

The coroner pointed out several lapses, such as how the medical officer at the unit where Pte Ganesh was posted had not been informed of his condition.

Captain Jessie Goh, the officer in charge of Pte Ganesh, also did not do any research into schizophrenia.

In response to Straits Times queries, Mindef pointed to a previous report on how it screens all servicemen before enlistment and assigns them a Physical Employment Status (PES) grade. Those with medical conditions, including mental health ones, may be assigned a lower grade.

The grades range from A - fit for all combat vocations - to F, which exempts the person from national service. Pte Ganesh, who enlisted in October 2012, was given the E9L9 grade, the second lowest, because of his illness.

He became an administrative assistant in the army.

Mindef highlighted how it has a comprehensive system to track its soldiers' well-being.

Interviews are conducted by commanders every few months to find out how full-time national servicemen (NSFs) are adjusting. Some commanders are also taught counselling skills. Soldiers with issues may be then referred to medical officers, counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists in the SAF. There is also a 24-hour SAF counselling hotline.

Dr Christopher Cheok, who was formerly head of psychiatry at SAF between 2003 and 2009, pointed out a "weak" link in the chain.

There is a lack of awareness about mental health issues among junior commanders such as NSF officers and specialists, said the senior consultant, who now leads the psychological medicine department at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

"They may not understand or be equipped to deal with mental illnesses," he said, calling for more training workshops to be held.

He urged the SAF to take a more "rehabilitative, rather than punitive" approach to discipline, saying "there should be special considerations when punishing soldiers with serious mental illnesses". There is also the perception that soldiers who downgrade their PES status because of mental health issues are malingering. Such stigma must be addressed, Dr Cheok said.

He also believes that SAF needs to invest more resources into its mental health services.

"This is not just about having more doctors, but also case managers who call to check on patients regularly."

Dr Ang Yong Guan, who was SAF's head of psychiatry from 1986 to 2003 and sees a handful of soldiers in his private practice, believes that SAF should consider expanding its pool of psychiatrists, but noted that it probably faces constraints.

He added that whether a person with mental illness should be exempted from serving should depend on how mild or severe their condition is, the likelihood of relapse if they are subjected to stress, their attitude towards NS, and their parents' attitudes.

Mindef declined to comment and referred to a statement issued in response to the coroner's findings. It said it would study the findings carefully to improve and tighten its procedures to ensure better compliance by SAF units in dealing with soldiers with mental problems.

jianxuan@sph.com.sg

SEE Medical officers said Ganesh would be taken care of during NS: Dad

About the case

No foul play, but coroner highlights some issues

STATE Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid ruled out any foul play when he delivered his findings on the death of Private Ganesh Pillay Magindren on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old was found at the foot of his Sengkang condominium last July.

But the coroner did highlight several issues on how Pte Ganesh was treated in the army.

Mr Imran said that Captain Jessie Goh, who was his direct superior when he was posted to the 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery at Khatib Camp in November 2012, was "out of her depth" in dealing with the soldier's schizophrenia.

Mr Imran also said that the 14 charges of extra duties given to Pte Ganesh by Cpt Goh the day before he died was a "daunting prospect even for soldiers without any mental issues".

The coroner noted that Dr Mogilan Mohan, medical officer at Khatib Camp Medical Centre, was not informed of Pte Ganesh's condition by his former unit, Kranji Camp. This is a "classic case of non-compliance" with an army medical directive.

LEE JIAN XUAN

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12-04-2014, 09:23 AM.
Post: #2
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
This is one of the main problems of "conscription military service".
It is the same anywhere in the world.
There are always people not fit to join the army but forced to join no matter how good the "conscription screening" is.
How about those after conscripted "found not fit to serve".
As they can barely look after themselves as certified by doctors.
As in the army, "failure is not an option" will always contradict with the doctor's certification.
There you have it.
Wake up please before it's too late!
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WB:-

1) Rule # 1, do not lose money.
2) Rule # 2, refer to # 1.
3) Not until you can manage your emotions, you can manage your money.

Truism of Investments.
A) Buying a security is buying RISK not Return
B) You can control RISK (to a certain level, hopefully only.) But definitely not the outcome of the Return.

NB:-
My signature is meant for psychoing myself. No offence to anyone. i am trying not to lose money unnecessary anymore.

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12-04-2014, 10:09 AM.
Post: #3
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
NSF cannot report sick outside. Outside MC no 'pa keh'....even medical specialists which is much better than NSF doctors.

STILL medical opinion is like property valuations, you can keep on finding until you get one u like...
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"... but quitting while you're ahead is not the same as quitting." - Quote from the movie American Gangster

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12-04-2014, 10:12 AM.
Post: #4
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
Do they still have the white-horse category ?
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12-04-2014, 08:15 PM.
Post: #5
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
(12-04-2014, 10:12 AM)cfa Wrote: Do they still have the white-horse category ?
OF course! Of Course! Can a leopard change it's spots? Do you think human beings is different from the animal? Sometimes it's even worse, because human beings can do all the evil thoughts the leopard can't do.
=========== Signature ===========
WB:-

1) Rule # 1, do not lose money.
2) Rule # 2, refer to # 1.
3) Not until you can manage your emotions, you can manage your money.

Truism of Investments.
A) Buying a security is buying RISK not Return
B) You can control RISK (to a certain level, hopefully only.) But definitely not the outcome of the Return.

NB:-
My signature is meant for psychoing myself. No offence to anyone. i am trying not to lose money unnecessary anymore.

Find Reply
12-04-2014, 09:37 PM.
Post: #6
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
(12-04-2014, 08:15 PM)Temperament Wrote:
(12-04-2014, 10:12 AM)cfa Wrote: Do they still have the white-horse category ?
OF course! Of Course! Can a leopard change it's spots? Do you think human beings is different from the animal? Sometimes it's even worse, because human beings can do all the evil thoughts the leopard can't do.

Evidence?

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13-04-2014, 09:53 AM.
Post: #7
RE: Do more for servicemen with mental health issues, say experts
(12-04-2014, 09:37 PM)yeokiwi Wrote:
(12-04-2014, 08:15 PM)Temperament Wrote:
(12-04-2014, 10:12 AM)cfa Wrote: Do they still have the white-horse category ?
OF course! Of Course! Can a leopard change it's spots? Do you think human beings is different from the animal? Sometimes it's even worse, because human beings can do all the evil thoughts the leopard can't do.

Evidence?
Err........ i mean look at the deers and antelopes at SAVANA, they graze in a relax mood after the meal time of the lions are over.
Though the lions may be lazing nearby within their sights.

Animals don't kill for many other reasons or motives that human do. ( i am not saying i am not a HUMAN BEING.)
Human beings can do so many things that the animals can't or will never do.
That's why Chinese saying, " 禽 兽 不 如"
Human beings can kill wantonly.
That's my point.
No offence or malice intended.
My thinking is very simple & elementary only.
i am also Human Beings ma.
=========== Signature ===========
WB:-

1) Rule # 1, do not lose money.
2) Rule # 2, refer to # 1.
3) Not until you can manage your emotions, you can manage your money.

Truism of Investments.
A) Buying a security is buying RISK not Return
B) You can control RISK (to a certain level, hopefully only.) But definitely not the outcome of the Return.

NB:-
My signature is meant for psychoing myself. No offence to anyone. i am trying not to lose money unnecessary anymore.

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