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3 ways to protect and promote good mental health at the workplace

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Managers should be trained to have conversations about mental health, to recognise the signs of poor mental health and how to respond appropriately, as advised by the experts from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices.

With work being a fundamental part of life, the workplace environment can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health well-being. Stress-related illnesses have cost Singapore’s economy about S$3.2 billion a year, forming about 18% of the country’s total health expenditure.

Here are some ways to protect and promote good mental health at the workplace.

Mental wellness as a priority

Today’s workplace environment requires an engaged, innovative and resilient workforce. Many organisations have already begun to champion workplace mental wellness as a leadership priority, so as to benefit from the increased productivity that comes with investments in mental health.

Taking a proactive and preventive approach, leaders can pave the way by creating a workplace culture of care in their organisation, where employees feel supported and safe to ask for help with their mental health when needed.

Ensuring long-term results also requires commitment from all departments and levels of management. For example, managers should be trained to have conversations about mental health, to recognise the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and how to respond appropriately and provide adequate support.

Implement various communication channels and programmes that focus on lowering stigma and educating employees on the available resources to support mental health at the workplace.

Raising awareness at the workplace

Often, stereotyping and concerns arise because of a lack of understanding of mental health conditions. Fostering greater awareness is a key step to overcoming the stigma often associated with mental health at work.

As a start, develop and thoroughly enforce a strict code of conduct that ensures that discrimination (including mental health status) is not tolerated.  This should also be communicated to all employees.

More importantly, the code of conduct should drive all programmes and policies from the time a candidate is hired. For example, ensure that job applicants are assessed fairly based on their ability to perform the job (e.g. competencies, skills, relevant experience, etc.), and remove any need for the candidate to declare their mental health conditions unless there it is a job related requirement.

Implement various communication channels and programmes that focus on lowering stigma and educating employees on the available resources to support mental health at the workplace. Employees need to feel assured that they will be treated fairly without negative consequences if they disclose a mental health condition at work.

Employers should aim to create an environment that promotes psychological safety, and which allows employees to thrive at work without fear of discrimination.

Automate routine tasks, where possible, so that employee efforts are focused on building valuable skills such as problem-solving and creativity, that keep them engaged in the long-term.

Develop smarter work design

Most employees prefer work that is both meaningful and purposeful rather than routine mundane and repetitive tasks, which can negatively impact mental health.

Employers can create meaningful and purposeful employee experiences by treating employees fairly and providing autonomy and resources. For example, creating flexibility around how, when and where work is done allows employees to better manage their work alongside other commitments, and better perform at a pace and in an environment where they can be their most productive.

Automate routine tasks, where possible, so that employee efforts are focused on building valuable skills such as problem-solving and creativity, that keep them engaged in the long-term.

Just as organisations strive to keep their employees physically healthy, mental wellness is also a key aspect of retaining motivated and productive workers. Employers that make genuine strides to care for their employees’ mental health can reap benefits in productivity and improved absenteeism rates. This ultimately creates a positive workplace where people want to work in.


TAFEP holds regular workshops to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit tafep.sg to find out more.

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