09 Dec 2021
OPENING ADDRESS BY DR JANIL PUTHUCHEARY, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF HEALTH FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE WORKPLACE MENTAL WELL-BEING CAMPAIGN ON 9 DECEMBER 2021
CREATING A SUPPORTIVE MENTAL HEALTH ECOSYSTEM
My Co-chair, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, Mr Zaqy Mohamad
Members of the Tripartite Oversight Committee for Workplace Safety and Health
Distinguished partners and guests
I am delighted to be part of the launch of the Workplace Mental Well-Being Campaign, organised by the Workplace Safety and Health Council.
Mental Well-Being in the Workplace
2. The workplace presents an excellent opportunity for employers and employees to cultivate positive mental well-being. Close to 65 per cent of our population is in the workforce and spend much of their time deepening connections, interacting with co-workers, superiors, subordinates, and stakeholders while at work. We spend a lot of time there. Against the COVID-19 backdrop, mental well-being issues have become more salient at the workplace. Many have to cope with changes to our lifestyle routines with new hybrid or work-from-home arrangements, including, for example, the fact that I am recording this video and delivering it to you. Some of us have to cope with feelings of social isolation as a result of reduced interactions with their co-workers. Others have concerns over job security in this new normal.
3. It is now more pertinent for individuals to reach out to one another for support and for organisations to promote a culture that enables this. Having supportive leadership and human resource practices that foster an inclusive work culture are important in addressing mental well-being issues upstream. These will also help us to build a psychologically resilient and engaged workforce. Well-supported employees have better mental well-being, and are more likely to be engaged and productive at work. This in turn contributes to a stronger organisation and better business outcomes.
Creating a Supportive Ecosystem
4. It is important for different stakeholders to integrate our efforts and engage the workforce on the importance of caring for their mental well-being, and provide the support networks that they need.
5. The Council’s ‘Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign’ is a demonstration of that – it shows that joint efforts can culminate in meaningful outcomes. As part of the campaign, the Playbook on Workplace Mental Well-being has been developed. This equips organisations with workplace mental health-related tools and resources. This is important progress in encouraging organisations to implement mental well-being initiatives for their employees. In addition, the outreach to employers, employees and industry partners through the campaign ensures that different segments of Singaporeans are well supported in caring for their own mental well-being and for those around them.
6. The Playbook is the result of the Council’s engagement with different industry partners. The resources have been contextualised for organisational use and also complement the national mental health and well-being resources on MindSG. MindSG is a one-stop portal developed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) together with our partner agencies, and it has content curated by mental health experts. These are all truly collaborative efforts, and we need more of this. I urge the tripartite partners, members of the Committee, partners from the HR community, unions and employers to continue this partnership, create a stronger mental health ecosystem at the workplace together.
Strengthening Support at Workplaces
7. Employers are important stakeholders in this ecosystem too. A good way to start is by leveraging available resources to develop support systems and introduce mental well-being programmes at the workplace. For example, you can work with HPB to organise workshops for your employees. These can help your employees acquire practical tips on stress management, learn about resilience and positivity, and how to manage burnout. With the impact of COVID-19, the workshops have expanded their focus to help manage stressors arising from the pandemic.
8. Training programmes that equip supervisors, HR managers and employees with supporting skills and knowledge are also available. These will help participants learn to identify signs and symptoms of common conditions, and acquire knowledge on how they can reach out to and support colleagues with mental health challenges, and encourage them to seek help early if required. HPB tells me that there is demand for more of such programmes – this is a positive sign that employers are increasingly recognising the value of helping their employees to keep healthy, not just physically but also mentally.
9. All of us can also create a supportive environment by normalising conversations on mental health concerns, especially at the workplace, thinking about how to endorse an open culture of self-care and encouraging discussions on mental well-being – this will help to change our workplaces into spaces that are conducive for employees and all of us to reach out when they are overwhelmed. You may also need to establish dedicated platforms or HR systems that allow employees to share their problems and challenges without feeling judged or penalised. This is the kind of outcome we hope to achieve at the workplace – the supportive mental health ecosystem.
10. As the Co-chair for the Tripartite Oversight Committee and the Chair of the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being, all of these efforts taking place to support the mental well-being of our working community really are heartening and give me hope for the future of our plans together. I welcome more stakeholders to collaborate with us, HPB or the Council to bring about positive changes in mental well-being for our workforce.
11. I wish all of you good health. Thank you.