The spectrum of mental health-related issues is far and wide, with varying effects on different individuals.
Some may cause persistent sadness or depression. Others may even push individuals over the edge.
According to the second Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) initiated in 2016, one in seven people in Singapore will experience a mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime.
In August 2020, a report released by the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) revealed that there were a total of 400 suicide cases in Singapore in 2019 – three cases higher than the year before.
More recently, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a mental health resilience survey conducted on some 3,250 working individuals by the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that 61 per cent of workers working from home were stressed with the arrangement.
With the prevalence of mental health issues on the rise, what more can we do to help workers deal and cope with stress?
Concerns Raised in Parliament
With mental health concerns becoming more widely recognised, some members of parliament have also raised their concerns.
Earlier in August 2020, Melvin Yong, a labour member of parliament and representative for Radin Mas, took the opportunity to bring up the issue of workplace health.
Citing that the pandemic has blurred the lines between home and office, he said: “I hope that the Government could expand the list of occupational diseases under the Work Injury Compensation Act, to include mental health illnesses related to work stress.”
The Change in Perception and Understanding
The good news is, as our nation progresses, we are moving towards a more understanding and accepting society.
Based on the study mentioned earlier, the proportion of people who did not seek help for their mental-related concerns dipped from 82.1 per cent in 2010 to 78.4 per cent in 2016.
The delays in seeking treatment also fell, with most categories of mental disorders seeing people seeking treatment years in advanced compared to a decade ago.
This likely reflects the changes in mindset, with people now understanding that it is better to seek help early, rather than to let the situation escalate any further.
It could also be attributed to suffering individuals getting more support from family, friends and even members of the public.
Today, some employers take proactive steps to manage the mental health of their staff.
Companies like Google Singapore offer employees multiple developmental programmes that incorporate mindfulness, allowing them to take charge of their emotions.
They even have a meditation room to allow their employees to destress and relax while improving their focus and awareness.
Other companies like Arup, a building consultant in Singapore, have also started a mental health first-aid training programme for their staff, certifying them as mental health first-aiders who can identify risks in the workplace, and provide help if someone is experiencing a mental health issue.
More Help for Workers
There currently are both Government and non-government support structures in place for individuals to reach out to help, such as the National CARE Hotline and Samaritans of Singapore.
For less urgent cases, individuals can turn to mobile applications such as MindFi.
Made by a mobile technology company of the same name – some of its features include soothing ambient music to help you meditate; fun and engaging content; as well as short challenges to help you work some self-care into your daily routine.
Then, there is also the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces released on 17 November 2020.
The advisory sets out measures for employers to adopt to care for their workers’ mental well-being at the workplace. It also provides resources that may be useful to employers, workers and self-employed persons.
Hopefully, with the release of the advisory, more employers will recognise the importance of managing their employees’ mental well-being.
Need Further Assistance?
If you are having any personal struggles and need to speak to someone, you can consider reaching out to these following hotline numbers.
National CareHotline: 1800-202-6868
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222