Singapore Interagency Taskforce's recommendations to strengthen mental wellbeing workplace measures

This involves equipping employers, HR practitioners, supervisors, and colleagues with knowledge on supporting persons with mental health conditions and creating inclusive workplaces, through support services and resources.

Singapore's Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Wellbeing has proposed five recommendations to strengthen workplace wellbeing measures, and improve the employability of and employment support for persons with mental health conditions. It will be 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".

"All persons in recovery from mental health conditions should have the opportunity to live with dignity in a caring and inclusive society. Employment is an important aspect of recovery for persons with mental health conditions as it allows them another avenue to participate meaningfully in society," the Taskforce explained in a statement released on 30 May 2022 (Monday).

On that note, the five recommendations proposed 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, and
  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.

Other than the workplace setting, the Taskforce has also put forward seven recommendations in the areas of accessibility, coordination, and quality of mental health services, as well as services and support for youth mental wellbeing.

With regard to the former, the Taskforce seeks the public’s feedback on four recommendations below:

  1. 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;
  2. Designate a few first-stop touchpoints to provide individuals with easy access to mental health support and advice;
  3. Standardise processes and systems to improve coordination between social and healthcare service providers, and
  4. 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.

As for the latter, the three recommendations are as follows:

  1. Leverage the care model for mental health and well-being services;
  2. Develop a parents’ toolbox to equip parents with youth mental health and cyber wellness knowledge and skills, and
  3. Promote positive and healthy use of technology and social media.

According to the Taskforce's statement, in the area of youth mental wellbeing, "there is room to improve mental health awareness among youths, and to provide easier access to mental health support and services for them".

"We invite the public to share feedback on the Taskforce’s [aforementioned] preliminary recommendations via from 30 May to 7 August 2022. In addition, over 30 small group engagements will be held with key stakeholders including youths, parents, persons with mental health conditions, service providers, employers, and community agencies on the preliminary recommendations. Grassroots will also engage residents to gather feedback. These stakeholders will be contacted directly via their respective organisations to participate in the engagement sessions."

For context, the Taskforce was set up in July 2021, and comprises members from over 30 government agencies, public and private sectors. Coordinated by the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and supported by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, the Ministry of Manpower, and the National Council of Social Service, the Taskforce oversees and coordinates mental health and wellbeing efforts by focusing on cross-cutting issues that require interagency collaborations.

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