Mental health is just as important as physical health, and yet it is often ignored in workplaces in Singapore. According to the Mercer Marsh Benefits’ Health On Demand Survey, 55% of Singapore workers stated they experienced daily stress, with 56% of them feeling they were not provided with adequate employer support. While the mental health statistics are a cause for concern, the good news is that employers can take steps to help their employees manage stress with fair and progressive employment practices in Singapore. Businesses need to be proactive in creating a healthy environment for their employees’ mental well-being to strengthen the resilience of their staff, ensure operational continuity and give workers the support they need to perform at their best. Here are some best practices to support the mental health of your employees and address the challenges faced in dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.

1. Increase Access For Mental Health Assistance

Counselling services have reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a mental toll on employees especially when they have to adapt to both working from home and in their offices. To ease workers back into the rhythms of working in the office and to ensure employees working online are not isolated, a best practice by employers should be to increase access to mental health providers or other supportive resource for their staff. In these cases, it’s useful to have an established partnership with a local provider and for employers to become familiar with the resources that are available. The Straits Times found that companies in Singapore have been tapping on for mental health assistance for their workers is the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). The EAP provides confidential counselling to aid employees in coping with challenges in work and their personal lives. This is certainly a good fair and progressive employment practice in Singapore for businesses to implement to help their team deal with workplace stress. 

2. Implement Wellness Initiatives

Wellness initiatives can help mental health problems in the workplace by equipping employees with stress management skills that build up mental resilience to mitigate negative effects of stress. One such initiative is by the civil service, the nation’s biggest employer, whose setting up of a digital portal, Mindline At Work offers mental health resources including tips on sharing a mental condition with bosses and adjusting to the first 100 days in a new job. Another useful feature is its clinically validated well-being self-assessement tool. Another fair and progressive employment practice in Singapore businesses can emulate is organising mental wellness seminars. For example, Sodexo, has planned at least 12 mental wellness seminars for their staff starting from July 2020 to teach them how to manage their mental health at work.

3. Battle Mental Health Stigma By Changing The Norms

One of the challenges faced in dealing with mental health issues in the workplace is the stigma attached to mental health in Singapore. Employers can create a safe environment for those with mental health issues by facilitating awareness related to mental health and through boosting mental health literacy within their company.

An additional fair and progressive employment practice in Singapore  worth considering is the training of dedicated employees to aid those in need and champion mental health and wellness services. With some workers more at ease to reach out to a colleague than a mental health specialist, these company advocates can become a bridge between workers and mental health care. An example of a company to have done so is Standard Chartered, which has trained and certified 60 employees in Singapore as part of its mental health network to assist colleagues with mental health struggles. 

4. Craft Suitable Workplace Policies 

A good starting point for a business is to create clear workplace policies to show the next steps to take when a worker is struggling with mental health struggles. These policies can state the evaluation and treatment requirements, and conditions for a return to work to offer clarity about what are the next steps that are needed. For instance, suicidal thoughts may require immediate intervention along with a referral to an occupational health provider in Singapore. The provider can make sure the worker finishes the necessary treatment before returning to work. Employees dealing with grief from a recent loss or flare-up of a mental health disorder could also benefit from paid family medical leave or a temporary job reassignment. Having these policies will empower employers to be better equipped to support the mental health of their staff.

Make A Pledge To Fair And Progressive Employment Practices

The Singapore Business Federation Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. Singapore Business Federation launched this initiative with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on to achieve long-term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.

Make the pledge to join others in this journey to implement fair and progressive employment practices in Singapore.