Learning & Development Asia 2024
MOM encourages every workplace in Singapore to have mental wellbeing champions

MOM encourages every workplace in Singapore to have mental wellbeing champions

While employers have a role in supporting their workforce's mental health and wellbeing, the employees themselves have to take ownership by taking active steps to stay positive mentally and seek help when needed, the Ministry stressed.

A recent study by Duke-NUS and the Institute of Mental Health revealed the economic impact of mental health issues on productivity in Singapore.

In light of the findings, Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Wan Rizal raised a question to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), on whether it has in place plans to introduce mandatory mental health awareness and training programmes for employers and managers; to elaborate on the challenges or considerations in implementing a mandatory approach.

In response on Thursday (3 August 2023), the Ministry noted that the study presents the economic case for organisations to invest in their employees' mental wellbeing, given the economic and productivity loss resulting from depression and anxiety among adults.

At the moment, however, MOM does not mandate mental health awareness and training programmes for employers and managers. "There is a wide range of businesses that vary in the nature of work, size of company, supervisor-employee ratio, employee needs and company resources. "There is also a wide spectrum of mental health conditions and a wide range of factors affecting one’s mental health, some of which are beyond the workplace. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing for employees," the Ministry explained.

Thus, instead of prescribing mental health awareness and training programmes for employers and managers, MOM said it encourages every workplace to identify suitable representatives to be 'mental wellbeing champions' to increase awareness and promote adoption of mental health support measures.

"Employers and managers who are passionate about this cause are welcome to attend free or subsidised training programmes offered by the Workplace Safety and Health Council and Health Promotion Board. Tripartite Partners also provide practical guidance via the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Wellbeing at Workplaces that employers can adopt to support their employees' mental wellbeing."

That said, the Ministry stressed that workers too, have to take ownership of their mental wellbeing by taking active steps to stay positive mentally and seek help when needed. 

In similar updates, MP Edward Chia raised a separate Parliamentary query on:

  • Whether there have been studies conducted by the Government on the direct correlation between employee wellness and productivity in the workplace, and
  • Whether there are any initiatives in place to measure the impact on employee wellness resulting from workplace transformation.

To this, MOM shared that since 2021, it has been collecting data on mental well-being at the workplace via the iWorkHealth tool – a self-administered psychosocial health assessment tool for companies and their employees to identify common workplace stressors. Based on responses from about 16,000 employees, it was found that employees who experienced work stress or burnout took about an additional 1.25 to 1.5 days of medical leave per year, as well as encountered accidents or near miss incidents about two to 2.5 times more than employees who did not.

"In other words, when employers take care of employee wellbeing, they can expect to see lower absenteeism and fewer accidents," it highlighted.

"As businesses and jobs transform, employers should design work processes and workplaces with the physical and mental health, and safety, of their employees in mind. We urge employers to tap on iWorkHealth as one of the tools to address workplace stressors in the company.

"The Workplace Safety and Health Council is open to supporting companies that are interested in measuring the impact on employee wellbeing resulting from workplace transformation."


Photo: Shutterstock 

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window