Opening Remarks by Minister of State for Manpower, Ms Gan Siow Huang at Workplace Mental Well-Being Champions Network
Minister of State for Manpower, Ms Gan Siow Huang, PSB Academy Stem Wing
1. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to join today’s dialogue on workplace mental well-being.
2. I am privileged to work with many organisations and partners to develop workplace well-being and mental health support. It has been a learning journey for me, starting from more than 2 years ago, when the Government started an inter-agency taskforce to put together a roadmap at the national level, for us to identify the needs for the future, develop capabilities, and address important issues like stigma, and how we can support mental well-being and mental health of individuals at every level of society.
3. I am heartened to see so many individuals passionate about making a difference at the workplace, starting with what matters most— caring for our mental well-being and that of those around us.
The importance of workplace mental well-being
4. Many of us spend most of our waking hours at work. So the workplace environment – whether positive or adverse – will likely be a major factor in influencing our overall well-being.
5. Work can be good for mental well-being. According to the World Health Organisation, good work and workplaces support good mental health for individuals by providing a livelihood, a sense of confidence, purpose and achievement which is needed for humans to thrive and create an opportunity for positive relationships and make friends.
6. This makes it vital for us to ensure that at the workplace, our employees are supported and enabled to do good work.
7. The launch of the national mental health strategy signals the Government’s focus and support towards mental health and well-being, and our intent to go upstream to prevent the development of mental health conditions.
8. Employers and colleagues can support each other to look after one another’s mental health at work, and refer those who need help to reach out to available mental well-being resources.
Keeping up with evolving needs
9. I am happy to announce that we have expanded the Tripartite Advisory (TA) on Mental Health and Well-being, which provides practical guidance to employers on how to better support their employees’ mental well-being.
10. This is a timely expansion to include mental well-being practices that are reasonable and meaningful to be implemented at workplaces. I lead one of the Workgroups that looks at employment support under this inter-agency taskforce. To share the approach we took to expand the TA, over the past 2 years, we gathered ideas and inputs from various experts in our workgroup and from the public as well. From there, we curated what would be useful to employers to support their employees’ mental well-being.
11. The key to strengthening mental well-being at workplaces is to assess and identify employees’ needs and adopt initiatives that best address these needs, leveraging available resources. Despite best efforts, awareness of resources available can certainly be further improved. Getting individuals who are willing to play a role to step forward is another area that we hope to step up on.
12. The new practices in the TA that employers can consider implementing are creating a peer support system and hiring Individuals with Mental Health Conditions who are job-ready, to access a wider talent pool and build more inclusive workplaces.
13. While these practices are newly added to the TA, I know that many of the progressive companies like yours, have already started on this journey. Peer supporters can help employers create supportive environments for employees and destigmatize mental health issues at work.
Building a community at work who cares
14. We have started the Well-being Champions Network to create stronger momentum for more employers to create supportive workplaces. It is a platform to exchange ideas and best practices with one another, and provides access to a range of resources and training to strengthen knowledge on safeguarding mental well-being. In January 2024, Champions will have access to training aligned with the Tier 1 skills in the National Mental Health Competency and Training Framework, such as being able to identify signs of burnout or distress, and knowing self-care techniques. More advanced training modules, such as on knowledge and identification of mental health disorders, will be progressively added.
15. I would like to thank members gathered here today for joining me at the launch of the Well-Being Champions Network. Many of you are in organisations with exemplary mental well-being practices. Your membership will be especially helpful to the many more companies out there that are just starting out in their mental well-being journey at the workplace. As Founding Members, you play an important role in paving the way for the cross-sharing and testing of ideas that the Government can work closely with citizens on.
16. We need Champions like yourselves who can help to
a. rally your senior management to implement policies to support employees’ mental well-being
b. organise and curate activities, programmes and resources to enhance employees’ mental well-being and
c. establish a system such that persons in distress can be referred to, for professional help.
17. I cannot emphasise enough the important role that you play. This is why the Ministry of Manpower and the Workplace Safety and Health Council have launched this network to better support you in this journey forward.
18. I hope that this network will thrive, and I know that this network will grow because there is higher awareness and higher demand in society – not just at workplaces – for mental well-being and mental health support. I would like to congratulate all of you for being on this journey, being Founding Members, and I look forward to your support in the years ahead. Thank you.