The Institute of Mental Health is a 2,000-bed acute tertiary psychiatric hospital located at Buangkok Green Medical Park. IMH offers a comprehensive range of psychiatric, rehabilitative and counselling services for children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
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From hearsay, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) was one place many would want to avoid. Depictions of patients going berserk and irrational is so common throughout Singaporeans. To be honest, I have to concur that such images also appeared in my head whenever I read or heard the word 'IMH'. However, one experience totally changed that perception.
In 2012, I went to IMH to serve as a volunteer. My role was to interact with the patients there and gain an insight to their lives in the hospital. I could still remember the fear I had upon entering one of their wards. Such was my paranoia that I was constantly surveying my surroundings to check if any mental patient would creep up on me to assault me. Yup, I was that afraid.
Soon after, i was introduced to a ward filled with mental patients. As i got closer to the ward, the hysterical screams of the patients became more and more imminent.
To my surprise, although IMH seemed like a hospital on the outside, the interior of the wards had a stark resemblance of a prison cell. It had the cream walls of the hospital, but the security there was really stringent with lots of checkpoints and CCTVs.
I made my first friend named Uncle Najib and we hit off really well by reading magazines and doing colouring exercises together. Through conversing with him, I realised that Uncle Najib was no much different from my school canteen vendors. He was surprisingly friendly and even shared some of his life experiences with me. I could tell some of them was his imagination though; from being a police to a detective to a big boss, it was too dramatic to be true.
At the end of my voluntary experience, I've come to recognition that IMH isn't such a 'scary place' after all. Yes the patients might be mentally unstable, but most of them are actually very friendly. Rather than ostracising them, let's treat them as normal human beings, because they can be more normal than we think they are.
Woodbridge Hospital, or the Institute of Mental Health, suffers from an unfortunate stigma - being the hospital for the mentally ill.
It is no laughing matter to be afflicted with dementia, rabies, or insanity. However, they have found themselves in an unenviable place in Singapore culture. Whenever someone does something out of the blue or weird, you can often hear his/her friends go, "You siao ah, need to go IMH not?"
Despite that, I truly commend IMH for being a remarkable place. I live within the neighbourhood, and despite jokes from my friends dissing the patients there, I have never heard unsavoury sounds or met odd people creating a nuisance. The medical staff and doctors there truly do their job well.
By the way, I'm not quite sure what to put for the recommendation below. So I shan't.