Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Brunei Town

Healing with nature

James Kon

The Psychiatry Services at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital at Kampong Kiarong now boasts a therapeutic garden allowing patients to recovery in a calm and natural environment.

Minister of Health cum guest of honour Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar launched its opening yesterday, before touring the garden and planting a sapling to mark the occasion.

Certificates of appreciation were also presented to sponsors.

Psychiatry Services Consultant (Psychiatric) Dr Hilda Ho said, “In 2017, the Psychiatry Services – which comprised outpatient clinic services, paediatric and adolescent services, psychiatric rehabilitation services as well as inpatient treatment ward services – moved from RIPAS Hospital to this vast area that is full of natural green environment. When we moved, we did not have the time to work on the green areas here for therapeutic purposes, as the priority at the time was to provide safe treatment areas for patients.

“The two buildings in front of us consist of wards to provide treatment to inpatients, totalling about 200 admissions per year.

“Most of our patients are treated for various types of mental disorders for about a four-week duration. Unfortunately there are also some who need to be treated for a longer period, sometimes up to years. They need not only medication and care from health professionals, but also a calm and pleasant environment to aid in their recovery,” she said.

“The proposal for the park originally came from suggestions by the Mental Health Order Board of Visitors, which frequently visit the facilities. They suggested that patients would benefit from a specially designed garden. Patients are also expected to exercise, do gardening and even enjoy the beautiful open green space.

Minister of Health cum guest of honour Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar tours the garden. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
ABOVE & BELOW: Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham with the sponsors; and the therapeutic healing garden

“To raise funds to construct the garden and increase mental health awareness among the community, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Psychiatry Services held a virtual charity run on World Mental Health Day in October 2020, drawing the participation of over 1,000 individuals.

We are truly grateful to see countless people actively supporting and understanding the importance of mental health. Additionally, we also received donations from corporate sponsors and the private sector.

“We would like to express our appreciation to the sponsors for their dedication in supporting mental health and psychiatric services. In particular, we would like to express our appreciation to our platinum sponsor, Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited, for its contribution to this project and support for this opening ceremony. We would also like to thank all who supported this project,” Dr Hilda said.

The garden’s construction falls in line with the World Mental Health Day theme over the last two years, which is to welcome increased investment in mental health and up efforts to address inequality.

“Unfortunately, the stigma against mental health problems remains in our society. It is increasingly recognised that mental health requires more investment and commitment across all sectors of our society. Our goal is to achieve all this with a whole-of-nation effort through the Mental Health Action Plan outlined by the Minister of Health recently,” she added.

The therapeutic garden is designed to meet the physical, psychological and social needs of patients by incorporating design principles derived from scientific evidence.

Studies show the benefits of a sustained and active interest in gardening including improved mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement, reduced feelings of isolation or exclusion due to an opportunity to connect with others and better physical health through exercise and mobility.

It is hoped the garden can be beneficial and conducive towards patients’ recovery during their admission to the wards and their long-term rehabilitation needs.

Legislative Council member cum Mukim Gadong ‘A’ Penghulu Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin, senior MoH officials, members of the Board of Visitors of the Psychiatry Services, as well as representatives from Great Eastern Life Assurance Co Ltd, Osco Sdn Bhd, Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd, Clarity Sdn Bhd, Munia Business Consultancy, Serviclean Sdn Bhd, RYS Entertainment, Teck Guan Holdings and Together Against Stigma (TAS) attended the opening ceremony.