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Inter-agency advisory on supporting mental well-being of workers under COVID-19 work arrangements

Jointly issued by MOM, MSF, AIC, IMH and NCSS.

Issued on 24 April 2020

Work from home and work suspension during COVID-19 could be mental health stressors

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant disruptions to work arrangements. It has hit our economy hard and brought about many uncertainties to our workers, including employees and self-employed persons (SEP).
    • Some employees may be anxious about their job security. Others, like SEPs, may worry about their work prospects and revenue sources.
    • Many workers have adopted work from home (WFH) as part of safe distancing. However, working remotely for a prolonged period may lead to social isolation.
    • Parents with young children would have to balance work with supervising their children’s Home-Based Learning.
    During this period of uncertainty, employers and workers could consider taking practical steps, and tapping on counselling resources, to support one’s mental well-being.

    How employers could support their employees
  2. Employers could consider the following forms of support:
    1. Keep employees on work suspension updated of the company’s salary and leave arrangements. Employers should adopt the practices in MOM’s advisory on salary and leave arrangements during periods of work suspension, and communicate their salary and leave policies to employees as early as possible.
    2. Supervisors to check-in regularly (i.e. at least once a week) with staff. Supervisors could have informal conversations with staff, such as via video conferencing or phone messaging applications, on how they are coping, and encourage employees to support one another. There could be short sessions set aside before or after work discussions to chat on non-work topics.
    3. Provide flexible work schedules for parents of young children. Supervisors could provide their staff with flexible work schedules and regular breaks even under WFH, to tend to their children’s Home-Based Learning. HR departments are encouraged to inform their employees of online parent support. Visit www.facebook.com/familiesforlife.sg, www.babybonus.msf.gov.sg/parentingresources and go.gov.sg/parentingsupport for more information. SEPs may find these support useful too.
    4. Provide employees access to an external counselling service. Employers could consider signing up to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) as part of staff benefits (refer to list of EAP service providers in Annex A and other external counselling resources in Annex B). HR departments should assure employees that counselling engagements would be kept private and confidential. SEPs may avail themselves to the counselling resources as well.

      Employers may refer to the Mental Health Toolkit for Employers for more information and resources on raising mental health awareness, training and supporting employees with mental health conditions.

      How employees and SEPs could support themselves
    5. Maintain a circle of social support. Workers are encouraged to reach out to their families and friends via video conferencing or phone messaging applications regularly. They can also tap on various counselling resources, such as the National CARE Hotline, if they need more help (see Annex B).
    6. Stay active and healthy (visit go.gov.sg/activesg-circuit for more information). Follow these simple tips:
      • Have at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day
      • Eat a balanced diet to strengthen immunity
      • Continue to do moderate exercise every day
      • Take up one or two activities – e.g. reading a book, listening to music, learning a new skill online, etc.
      • Master a few simple relaxation techniques – (visit https://healthhub.sg/live-healthy/435/stressrelaxationtechniques for more information)
    7. Tap on grants and assistance available. For those concerned about income loss, the Government has introduced a range of support measures to help households and businesses including SEPs (visit supportgowhere.gov.sg for more information on the grants available).
    8. Find employment opportunities through SGUnited Jobs initiative. This is an extension of employment facilitation efforts under the Adapt and Grow initiative to create about 10,000 jobs over the next one year and match jobseekers and workers affected by the current COVID-19 situation. (visit sgunitedjobs.gov.sg for more information)

Annex A - Employee Assistance Programme service providers

Company Contact
Singapore Anglican Community Services Integrated Employment Services 6812 9614
6812 9605
eap@sacs.org.sg
The Centre for Psychology 6733 2893
contact@center4psy.com
Mind What Matters 9172 9132
info@mindwhatmatters.com.sg
The Resilienz Consultancy Pte Ltd 6397 7300
enquiry@resilienz.com.sg
Counselling and Care Centre 6536 6366
info@counsel.org.sg
Centre for Effective Living 6338 3383
contact@livingeffectively.com
Singapore Counselling Centre 6339 5411
counselling@scc.sg
Work and Health Psychologists 6258 7502
workpsych@singnet.com.sg

Annex B - Mental health resources and services

CHAT by IMH

Provides free mental health assessment to young adults aged 16 to 30 years old with mental health concerns.

www.chat.mentalhealth.sg

webCHAT (Tue to Fri, 1pm to 8pm)

Belle, the Beyond the Label helpbot

Helps public gain easy access to relevant services and resources.

go.gov.sg/beyondthelabelhelpbot

Online / phone counselling

These services provide counselling support to help individuals cope with emotional crisis.

Online / phone counselling Contact
National CARE Hotline
Offers emotional support to individuals who may be worried about COVID-19 and its impact on personal / family lives and livelihoods.
1800 202 6868
(24 hrs)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin) 1800 353 5800
(10am to 10pm)
Silver Ribbon (Singapore) 6385 3714
6386 1928
6509 0271
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
www.silverribbonsingapore.com
Singapore Association for Mental Health 1800 283 7019
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, excluding public holidays)
counselling@samhealth.org.sg
Caregivers Alliance Limited
For caregivers of persons with mental health conditions. Supporting caregivers who are business owners.
West Cluster:
9720 7590 / 9770 7996

Central Cluster:
9729 8628 / 9826 7115

East Cluster:
9736 9170

General enquiries:
6460 4400

(Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, excluding public holidays)

www.cal.org.sg/support-caregiver-businesses
Community Psychology Hub
For those experiencing marital, divorce or parenting stress.
www.cphonlinecounselling.sg

Live chat: Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm (excluding public holidays)

Email: A counsellor will respond within 3 working days.

Crisis helpline and suicide prevention

Crisis helpline Contact
Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
Open to public who come into contact with individuals who are experiencing any mental health crisis.
6389 2222
(24 hrs)
Samaritan of Singapore (SOS)
Provide emotional support for individuals having difficulty coping during a crisis, thinking of suicide or affected by suicide.
1800 221 4444
(24 hrs)