09 Dec 2021


Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Health, 
Industry Partners, 
Distinguished guests, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 

1. A very good morning to all. I’m glad to be part of the launch of the inaugural Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign. Providing mental well-being support at workplaces is a priority of the Tripartite Oversight Committee for Workplace Safety and Health. 

2. This is because mental stressors affect many of us. It has also gotten more challenging with COVID-19. 

a. A study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) between May 2020 and June 2021 found that about 13 percent of Singaporeans surveyed experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. This compares with three percent with anxiety and six percent with depression pre-COVID. |

b. Just when things were starting to look better, we realise that more challenges stand in the way. A senior civil servant recently said that the light at the end of the tunnel we were waiting for, turned out to be the Omicron train . 

3. Now that being said, it is heartening to see growing support for workplace mental well-being. More employers are encouraging open conversations, and implementing initiatives to support employees’ mental well-being. 

a. In a recent local study conducted by Oracle, 77 percent of the respondents felt their companies were more concerned about their mental well-being now compared to before the pandemic. 

b. We should capitalise on this momentum and awareness, to normalise support for employees’ mental well-being across all companies. 

Launch of the Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign 2021

4. Spreading and normalising support for employee mental well-being is the aim of this inaugural Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign. 

a. This complements the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) national mental well-being campaign, ‘It’s OKAY to Reach Out’, which was launched in October this year. 

b. The campaign is also aligned with the WSH Council’s National WSH Campaign, which encourages employers and employees to take time to take care. 

5. Through this Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign, it is my hope that more employers and employees will realise their shared responsibility in dealing with workplace mental well-being at the workplace. Employees should surface issues to their employers, and employers should support their employees, because work can be good for mental well-being, and mental well-being is good for work. 

6. Work is not only about stress that harms mental well-being. Work is also a source of purpose, achievement and camaraderie, that is positive for mental well-being. We just have to reflect on our own experiences at times when we were thriving at work, to know how work can be a source of mental well-being. 

7. Conversely, mental well-being is also good for work. A 2018 study by Deloitte in Canada found that every $1 invested in mental well-being initiatives – like in leadership training and giving staff access to counselling programmes – yielded an ROI of more than $2 from reduced medical leave and compensation costs

8. The effect of work on mental well-being and vice versa can be a virtuous cycle. Ms Lyn Lee, the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Royal Dutch Shell PLC, will share the example of how Shell taps on this synergy. 

9. In addition, I was also pleased to learn that the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) launched their ‘ASMI Gives Back’ Challenge last month. This initiative brings attention to the mental health and well-being of our migrant workers through a virtual fund-raising challenge. These are supports of companies showing their support towards workplace mental well-being.

10. To commemorate the Campaign, the WSH Council has produced a video, showcasing how management and staff can work together to make mental well-being and work mutually reinforcing. 
Resources to Aid Mental Well-being at Workplaces
11. The other message in the video, is that help and resources are available for employers who want to support mental well-being, but just don’t know where to start or who to go to. 

12. To support HR professionals in implementing mental well-being initiatives in their companies, we are very grateful to have the IHRP Senior Professionals and IHRP Master Professionals from the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), working with MOM and the WSH Council, to produce a mental well-being playbook. 

13. I am happy to launch the playbook today. It was produced by HR professionals for HR professionals. The playbook features easy-to-use and practical step-by-step guides and templates on how to implement workplace mental well-being initiatives. 

a. The playbook makes references to initiatives that HR professionals in Singapore have successfully implemented in their respective organisations. 

b. The playbook is available on both the IHRP’s and WSH Council’s websites. I highly encourage you to check out the actionable guidance spelt out in the playbook as you embark on, or refine, your company’s mental well-being journey. 

14. Another readily available resource that companies could tap on is the free iWorkHealth tool, which was launched in March this year. This online survey tool helps identify the factors leading to workplace stress, and employees’ overall state of mental well-being. Performing such a survey is foundational to companies’ mental well-being journey. It can shed light on issues such as burnout that are not easily visible, especially now when many employees are working from home. Only with such information can companies understand what are the problems, if any, they need to address, and whether the company’s state of mental well-being improves over time.  

a. As of end October, approximately 10,000 employees have used the iWorkHealth tool since its launch.

b. Look out for it at the iworkhealth.gov.sg website for more details and how to register. 

15. Another useful resource is the Total WSH programme, which offers free workshops and initiatives to help companies address safety and health risks, including mental well-being related ones, at the workplace. 

a. These include complimentary mental well-being talks on how to build resilience, understand common mental health conditions, and ways to better support potential at-risk co-workers. 

b. The programme has been recently streamlined to make the onboarding process quicker and easier, so I encourage more companies to sign up and make the most of this programme. 

CARE (Culture of Acceptance, Respect and Empathy) Award 

16. We want to formally recognise companies that have made progress in their mental well-being journey, and highlight them as employers of choice. They would also show others what is possible and worth emulating in terms of mental well-being practices. 

17. In this regard, the WSH Council will introduce a new CARE Award, as a separate award category in its annual WSH Awards. The CARE Award, which stands for Culture of Acceptance, Respect and Empathy Award, will start accepting applications in January 2022, together with the applications to the other WSH Awards, with winners announced in July 2022. The WSH Council will share the CARE Award’s detailed eligibility criteria upon opening the application cycle in January 2022. 

18. In a while, Dr Janil, my Co-Chair of the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Safety and Health, and who also chairs the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being, will be sharing more on how collaborative efforts across employers, employees and public agencies can contribute towards an inclusive and supportive environment. 

19. This campaign is dedicated to all of us who ever felt anxious, a little bit tighter in the chest, or have trouble sleeping, when thinking about work. It tells us that we can make work a source of mental well-being, and that help is out there. Take time to take care, and reach out to the resources available to allow more of us to thrive and flourish at work.  

20. Thank you, and have a wonderful day ahead.