Senior Case Manager
Institute of Mental Health
In my six years working as a Case Manager, I have had many memorable encounters with patients. However, the interaction which impacted me the most involves a 34-year-old gentleman named Jeremy AMK. Since he was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder during his early 20s, Jeremy has had several admissions to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). His condition was so severe that he had to defer his polytechnic studies for several years due to his frequent relapses.
I first met Jeremy in December 2009 when he was admitted to the ward where I was the Case Manager. He was in his manic phase and thought that he was the incarnate of Jesus Christ. He believed that the Holy Spirit told him to “set sinners free”. In addition, Jeremy was extremely chatty and overfamiliar with people. He drew a picture of me, which was surprisingly true to form.
When he found out that he had to spend the New Year at IMH, he was devastated. He became agitated and aggressive. Nevertheless, with the rapport we had gradually established over the weeks, Jeremy was receptive to my counselling. He was discharged from the ward two weeks later and I continued to keep in touch with him.
I called him regularly to check in on him and remind him of his appointments with his psychiatrist. Whenever he came for his appointments, I would make it a point to meet him and his mother, Bridget, in the clinic to counsel him regarding any difficulties or challenges he might face.
Over the years, I was there with him not just as a Case Manager, but also as a friend, supporting him through his struggles. He managed to graduate with a Diploma from a polytechnic of his dreams. He went through the joys of finding love, and experienced heartbreaks whenever a girlfriend broke up with him due to his illness. There were also moments when he did not want to take his medication. Through all this, I was there to lend a listening ear and moral support, as he picked himself up and pushed forward with his life. Jeremy recently started his own business, making and selling desserts with his mother who has been a pillar of strength and support for Jeremy throughout his journey to recovery. It has been five years since Jeremy was last hospitalised and I am very proud to say that he has not had a relapse since.
Key Learning Points:
- Making the effort to establish rapport increases the patient’s receptivity to counselling.
- Keep in touch with the patient by calling them regularly to check in on them.
- Being a good Case Manager sometimes requires one to go above and beyond the call of duty.