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Global HR Insights

Leveraging Singapore’s Mental Well-Being Programs to Improve Employee Mental Health

16 February 2024

10 min read

Kelsey Breton
Kelsey Breton

In a 2023 Ipsos survey conducted in over 31 countries, Singapore had the highest satisfaction rate for its healthcare system (71%). Yet, that didn’t seem to translate to the mental health department. Mental health was found to be the top 2023 health concern, higher than cancer and the coronavirus.

By better understanding workplace mental health Singapore can enhance its economy and transform its market. Even on an individual level, it can boost employee morale, engagement, and productivity. 

In this article, we’ll help you better support your workers with employee mental health strategies and programs designed for workplace mental health Singapore.

Are Singaporeans Facing Poor Mental Health at Work?

Unfortunately, when it comes to workplace mental health Singapore isn’t the best. We’ve mentioned how mental health is the top health concern, but the survey results revealed there’s more to it than that.

“In the past year, 30% of Singaporeans say that they had felt stressed to the point where it had an impact on how they lived their daily lives; 26% of Singaporeans had felt stressed to the point where they felt like they could not cope/deal with things;”

The survey further adds, “24% had felt depressed to the point that they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for a couple of weeks or more, and yet another 12% had seriously considered suicide or self-hurt.”

If you’re unsure how that looks in the workplace, Alistair Carmichael, Expert Associate Partner of the People and Organizational Performance Practice at consultancy McKinsey & Company, stated that the percentage of people reporting signs and symptoms of burnout in Singapore is higher than the global average (at 29%).

employee mental health

Why Employee Mental Health is Important

For workplace mental health Singapore should support it simply because it’s a fundamental right, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than that, it means less tension and conflicts, higher retention, productivity, attendance, and performance rates, better employee morale and working conditions, and increased returns.

Additionally, employee mental health renders the workplace more accessible to people with psychological conditions. With workplace mental health Singapore will witness more inclusion, recovery, and social functioning. Not to mention, your business will enjoy higher engagement and productivity when employees are at their healthiest.

How employers can better support mental well-being in the workplace

To reap the benefits of enhanced workplace mental health Singapore business owners like you can help by:

Promoting mental health awareness

Employee mental health awareness efforts reduce the stigma around mental health struggles with knowledge. In fact, indicators of a workplace with good mental health include discussions and dispelling myths about mental health. To achieve that, you can:

  • Offer training, talks, and workshops by community partners in employee mental health awareness and literacy.
  • Get supervisors to discuss employee mental health conditions.
  • Start company-wide initiatives or employee mental health-related corporate social responsibility (CSR) events.
  • Spread awareness about the resources available to employees who need help.

Offering employee assistance programs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are voluntary, work-based intervention programs that should help employees with their personal and work-related problems, including everything from work stress to mental health disorders.

EAP counselors offer free and confidential short-term counseling, referrals, assessments, and follow-up services. They also consult supervisors and managers to address broader employee challenges.

Annex A includes a non-exhaustive list of EAP service providers with details on their services. You’ll find “80% of counselors and psychologists registered with Singapore Association for Counseling and Singapore Psychological Society or equivalent Association/Society; as well as (ii) at least 1 year of experience in providing EAP services.”

Flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) are work schedules or environment conditions that don’t follow the restrictions of a traditional workplace, reducing stress and promoting work-life balance.

To improve workplace mental health Singapore business owners like you can allow extensions and modified assignments, time-off for health appointments, annualized or banking hours, part-time contracts, leaves, sabbaticals, job sharing (where employees split full-time jobs with other employees), and compressed work weeks (like four 10-hour days).

However, you have to establish FWA policies so that employees know which options are available (flexible time, place, or workload arrangements) and how to request them.

These policies should balance between employee and business needs. You can check out the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) if you need guides on FWAs.

Training for managers

For better workplace mental health Singapore enables your managers and frontline supervisors to be trained in employee mental health conditions. After all, they’re partly responsible for the well-being of others and should implement policies to support them. Such training programs can help them do the following:

  • Know the signs of emotional distress and spot them in workers.
  • Know how to approach workers who may be struggling.
  • Be aware of the resources that they can direct those who need help to.
  • Develop the interpersonal skills needed to share their stories so that others feel encouraged to do the same.
  • Understand how job stressors impact employee mental health and how to manage them.

Regular check-ins

Regular one-on-one check-ins allow you to establish a relationship built on trust with your peers and allow you to give positive or constructive feedback in a much better way. Check-ins and the trust they build, help employees develop emotional safety at work, and give leaders a closer insight into their employee’s mental health. In conjunction with proper training, managers can be prepared to respond sensitively to any struggles employees share during those meetings.

Check-ins are especially important for workers after they return from time-offs for physical or mental health conditions. These check-ins ensure recovering employees are dealing well with their return to work. If not, you can make adjustments to their workloads.

Inclusive policies

To boost workplace mental health Singapore HR leaders can set inclusive policies. With them, your workplace can accept people with mental health disorders and varied abilities, avoid discrimination during hiring, and access wider talent pools. Review your employee mental health policies, and ask yourself:

  • Are these policies inclusive?
  • Are they suitable and customized to the needs of my employees?

If not, you can work with external partners (as needed) to help reshape policies to make them more inclusive. For example, you can add mental health days off to the paid time-off (PTO), establish anti-discriminatory policies among peers, and set policies regarding the confidentiality of information that employees share about their mental health.

workplace mental health Singapore

Singapore Programs Available for Employee Mental Health Improvement

To boost workplace mental health Singapore has effective programs, which can be helpful tools to make your workplace more mental-health friendly and increase employee satisfaction, retention, and performance rates.

National Council of Social Services (NCSS)

The National Council of Social Services (NCSS) is an umbrella body including over 500 member social service agencies in Singapore. It gives you access to social services, empowers these agencies, and nurtures strategic partnerships within this field.

For example, the NCSS released a guide called Beyond the Label, addressing stigma in corporations, and the Mental Health Toolkit for Employers, your guide to hiring and supporting people with mental illnesses.

MindFit at Work

If you want a better mental health workplace, Singapore is home to a MindFit at Work head office, a workplace wellbeing company. It offers employee mental health, well-being, mindfulness, and resilience training, consultations, and EAP programs. The company uses psychology and behavioral science to improve the performance and lives of your employees.

Workplace Outreach Wellness (WOW) Programme

With the Workplace Outreach Wellness (WOW) programme for workplace mental health Singapore offers you the support your company needs, with a locally registered Unique Entity Number (UEN) and the objective of creating a mentally healthy workplace.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) created this programme with its workplace health promotion offerings. Then, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) became an appointed project manager for it in 2023. Its general programs cover various activities that promote employee mental health, such as:

  • Physical activity
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Nutrition
  • Ergonomics

WOW also offers chronic disease health screening and health coaching and gives you co-funding options.

Wellbeing Champions Network

The Wellbeing Champions Network is a program for workplace mental health Singapore supported. In fact, the Tripartite Alliance Limited supports the Wellbeing Champions Network. 

The network includes Wellbeing Champions who “(i) rally senior management to implement policies and to support employees’ mental wellbeing; (ii) organize and curate mental wellbeing programmes and resources; and (iii) establish a system to refer persons in distress to professional help.”

In short, this community features a number of Champions, who are management-level employees implementing wellbeing initiatives for the company, possibly with the help of other employees.

This way, you can create a supportive work environment, normalize employee mental health practices, give your employees access to training and resources, and refer them to professionals (if needed).

WorkWell Leaders Workshops

Thanks to WorkWell Leaders (WWL) Workshops for workplace mental health Singapore has a non-profit organization that helps you build healthy workplaces. It uses leadership programs and practices that increase support and inclusivity and designs frameworks that help you apply policies all over the company.

This organization calls for managers to improve their own well-being as a necessary step in improving the well-being of employees. This mentality is clear in its programs. The Be Well series is composed of the following programs:

  • CEO Dialogue Twice yearly closed-door gatherings for CEOs to discuss pragmatic solutions of Being Well to Lead Well in a safe space.
  • CEO Commit A step-by-step guide developed for CEOs to manage their own wellbeing across all dimensions of their lives and to help them better empathize with the wellbeing of team members.
  • CEO Connect – A peer support program that allows CEOs to share personal wellbeing challenges and insights, fostering honest conversations among leaders.
  • CEO Breath Monthly mindfulness sessions for CEOs to enhance focus, clarity, and interpersonal connections while promoting wellbeing and encouraging the integration of mindfulness in work environments.

Additionally, there’s the Lead Well initiative, featuring the following programs:

  • Learn – Collaborative training with knowledge partners, to provide a deep dive into wellbeing issues, such as organizational mental health frameworks, peer support group establishment, and employee reintegration after mental health challenges.
  • Action – A members-only assessment of corporate mental health service providers, aiding informed choices for employee wellbeing.
  • Share – Designed for HR and operations leaders, these sessions offer practical wellbeing solutions, encourage knowledge sharing, and promote awareness of available resources.
  • Inspire – WorkWell Leaders Awards & Gala to establish a national standard for best practices in employee and leadership wellbeing and culture that drive business outcomes.

Championing Employee Mental Health with Omni

With the right tools, you can ensure a smooth transition to a more inclusive workspace that champions employee mental health. 

Omni empowers HR teams with the tools they need to make simple yet impactful changes to improve the accessibility within their organizations. Whether it’s updating leave policies, helping you easily prioritize new policies that support employee mental health, or access to employee data to swiftly analyze performance and detect signs of employee burnout. Omni’s highly customizable platform equips you with the tools and systems you need to make updates, save time, and connect with your workforce.

Get started today!

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