Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Mental health neglected

In response to the editorial on May 2, while I applaud the focus on the need of Taiwanese society to recognize and report sexual assault and abuse, I feel that there was a complete denial of mental-health issues.

I recognize that the family of the victim have stated that depression was not the issue, that the previous abuse suffered by the deceased created a demon inside of her that led to her death. Yet, how else could one describe depression if not as an inner demon?

It appears to me as if the shame of mental-health issues is once again being swept under the rug due to the nature of Asian society and the refusal to acknowledge any form of mental difficulties.

So many tragedies have occurred in recent years in Taiwan due to the complete lack of services for those suffering mental issues. From the horrible death of a child in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), to the MRT sword attack, the assailants were noted to have suffered from phychiatric issues.

And yet, rather than properly fund community and state projects that could have identified and possibly prevented these attacks, the state instead spends its sparse resources on a criminal justice system that still employs the archaic use of the death penalty — a system that possibly would not be needed if these crimes were prevented.

Would it not better serve Taiwanese society to stop stigmatizing mental-health issues? To have a system in place that offers assistance to young people suffering from depression? A system that allows people to access help if they recognize they have an issue?

Unfortunately, such changes take time. They also require a societal change of opinion regarding such problems.

However, Taiwan would not be the first nation to fundamentally change how it looks at and reacts to mental health issues. Ten years ago Ireland was the country with the highest suicide rate among young people in western Europe. Like in Taiwan, the issue was swept under the rug and attempts to discuss possible issues were considered taboo.

A lot has changed. Thanks to celebrities coming forward and talking about their own struggles with mental-health issues, ordinary citizens have felt more able to do the same. It is no longer taboo in Ireland to say you are depressed, to voice your suicidal tendencies, to admit a problem.

However, this has been but half the solution. The other half is the state support offered through counselling and other medical means.

Taiwanese suffer from all mental-health issues the same as every other nation. Until the nation recognizes this, and creates as effective a strategy as possible, then it risks losing even more of its bright young population needlessly.

Michael McKinney

Taipei

Admit Taiwan to WHA

There are no logical reasons to exclude Taiwan from membership of the World Health Assembly (WHA).

The WHA is a world organization and should not be controlled by China or any other countries in regard to Taiwan’s admission.

Taiwanese need health information as much as the rest of the people in the world.

Taiwan can contribute useful health information more than many other countries, possibly including China, which has blocked Taiwan from entering the WHA.

The WHA should be impartial and universal.

Charles Hong

Columbus, Ohio

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