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3 things you need to know about hiring people with mental health conditions

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A study released today by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) pointed out that despite people with mental health conditions wanting to be employed, the negative attitudes of co-workers are major barriers to employing people in recovery from mental health conditions.

The 2017 Study on Demand and Factors to Overcome Barriers to Employing Persons with Mental Health Conditions, surveyed 505 participating companies in Singapore to place a spotlight on employers and inclusion of persons in recovery at the workplace.


Did you know? 
According to the 2010 Singapore Mental Health Study by the Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are some of the most common disorders in Singapore. One in 17 people in Singapore have suffered from MDD at some time in their lifetime, while OCD affected one in 33 people. The study also found majority of the mental illnesses occurred by the age of 26.

The NCSS study revealed more than nine in 10 organisations have hired people in recovery and about half that have not hired or do not know if they have hired persons in recovery are willing to hire persons in recovery.

That said, the organisations surveyed cited time, resource, and information constraints as the main limitations to embracing a fully inclusive workplace for persons in recovery.

Here are three key things employers and organisations need to know about hiring people with or recovering from mental health conditions.

#1 The cost of implementing workplace adjustments are lower than you think

To cater to people with or recovering from mental health conditions, certain workplace adjustments should be made. These include:

1. Access to counselling
2. Allowing for flexi-­work arrangements
3. Training for supervisors
4. Increased work support and supervision
5. Job redesign
6. Provision of general mental health education
7. Provision of assistive technology
8. Provision of health benefits

Employers surveyed perceived the cost of implementing seven out of eight workplace adjustments at S$608.80 per employee, per year.

In fact, the actual cost of implementing these adjustments only come in at S$285.60 per employee, per year – less than half that of the perceived cost.

#2 Investing in workplace adjustments generates 5 times in returns

The study showed that every S$1 invested in a workplace adjustment generated an average of S$5.60 in returns for companies. These come in the form of benefits including reduction in absenteeism, reduction in medical claims and increase in average working hours per employee per week.

#3 Increased morale and productivity

Companies surveyed that had implemented at least one workplace adjustment realised various qualitative and quantitative benefits.

On average, greater benefits were observed by companies that hired persons in recovery as compared to those that did not. Some of these benefits include improvement in workplace morale, increased productivity as well as a reduction in associated costs to hire and retrain for each vacancy.

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