He handled suicide calls, his wife had postnatal blues. MP Wan Rizal wants to see 'next frontier' in mental health for Singapore

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SINGAPORE — When Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah and his wife had their fourth child in 2017, he thought that he would be better prepared to walk his wife through the throes of postnatal blues.

“You know, having a fourth child means you’re quite an ‘old bird’ already, lah,” the 46-year-old said, using a term that refers to someone who is well-seasoned. His wife is three years younger than him.

“You know that your wife will go through postnatal depression probably, and you’re more or less geared up… you know how to help her out,” he continued.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency was speaking to TODAY on Friday (Feb 2) before Parliament sits next week

Her condition then had not been medically diagnosed, he added, but even with some experience and preparation, having their fourth child was an especially difficult period for the couple, because his wife’s postnatal blues lasted for six months — much longer than he had expected.

“And for that whole duration, I think it was quite tough because she was always down. And as much support as I was giving her, I had three other children who also needed their mum.” Their four children are now aged 17, 14, 11 and seven.

“Under pressure” to care for his wife and young children then, Dr Rizal expressed gratitude to close friends to whom he could confide and be heard.

What helped the family through that period was having a community and strong support network, he remembered.

“Although I had to really hold the ship together, I was not alone. I had my parents, I had my in-laws and everybody came in and they became a very strong support system, and that’s why I believe strongly in this.

“If you really want to improve mental health in Singapore, it’s about getting that support network strong.”

This is why, together with ...

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