Singapore's Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Wellbeing

One of the respondents pointed out it's important to help translate mental health and wellbeing knowledge into supportive behaviours for leaders, supervisors, and co-workers.

In May 2022, Singapore's Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Wellbeing proposed several recommendations to strengthen workplace wellbeing measures, and improve the employability of and employment support for persons with mental health conditions. At that point, the Taskforce was looking to conduct a public consultation to seek locals' feedback on its recommendations so that it can "enhance the mental health and wellbeing of Singaporeans".

According to the Ministry of Health's (MOH) latest announcement (25 July 2022), to date, the consultation has received over 400 individuals' feedback representing stakeholders across different profiles and sectors. These stakeholders include youths, parents, healthcare institutions, social service agencies, employers, and persons with mental health conditions and their caregivers. In addition, close to 400 individuals have contributed their views through the online survey hosted on REACH's, a department under the Ministry of Communications and Information, website.

As such, the recommendations received "constructive and positive" feedback received from respondents. This includes:

  • Accessibility, coordination and quality of mental health services:

    • Stakeholders welcomed the suggestion for frontline workers to be equipped with mental health skills and knowledge to better identify signs and symptoms of mental health distress among their clients. The respondents indicated that such training in mental health would enable them to be more effective and confident at encouraging their clients with needs to seek help.

  • Strengthening mental health services and support for clients:

    • Stakeholders agreed that the proposed care model which provides a tiered system of mental health services would be useful to cater to the varying mental health needs of the population. It would also allow clients to access quality care that is appropriate to their needs in a timely manner.
    • The tiered system would need to be accompanied with relevant enablers, such as a common competency framework for staff to guide manpower training and development, and as well as standardised assessment and referral processes, to be implemented.
  • Improving employment support for persons with mental health conditions:

    • Feedback garnered called for a shift in mental model away from a one-size-fits-all approach, to one that actively supports customisation of vocational training and in-employment support, to better meet the needs of every individual.
    • Beyond increasing awareness of mental health and wellbeing practices among organisations, it is also important to facilitate the translation of knowledge into supportive behaviours for leaders, supervisors and, co-workers.

"We will continue to collate feedback from more stakeholders in the upcoming small group engagements and the REACH portal. The feedback will allow us to finetune preliminary recommendations and ensure that they are relevant to the population," said in MOH's statement.

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For context, the proposed recommendations are:

  1. Improve mental wellbeing support systems and work-life harmony strategies for employees in general (including persons with mental health conditions), by partnering employers to increase awareness on mental health resources, and enhance support networks and assistance;
  2. Standardise assessment and referral frameworks for all employment support agencies to provide customised employment support services;
  3. Improve access to training for persons with mental health conditions;
  4. Increase the number and variety of job opportunities available to persons with mental health conditions;
  5. Equip employers, human resource practitioners, supervisors, and colleagues with knowledge on supporting persons with mental health conditions and creating inclusive workplaces, through support services and resources such as helplines and consultancy clinics.
  6. Implement a care model that provides a tiered system of services (ranging from peer support, general counselling, to more intensive psychological and psychiatric services), to cater to individuals with varying levels of mental health needs;
  7. Designate a few first-stop touchpoints to provide individuals with easy access to mental health support and advice;
  8. Standardise processes and systems to improve coordination between social and healthcare service providers;
  9. Ensure frontline workers, peer supporters, mental health para-professionals are equipped with the relevant mental health competencies, and knowledge of mental health conditions and community support services.
  10. Leverage the care model for mental health and well-being services;
  11. Develop a parents’ toolbox to equip parents with youth mental health and cyber wellness knowledge and skills, and
  12. Promote positive and healthy use of technology and social media.

Image / Shutterstock

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