Mental health issues should not be treated as weakness: SICC chief
He outlines steps firms can take to improve mental wellness in the workplace
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a transforming impact on society, and those who denied or ignored the importance of mental health experienced such issues for themselves when it struck, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Victor Mills said yesterday.
Speaking at the Silver Ribbon Mental Health Awards Ceremony for Employers 2021, which was held over Zoom, the Singaporean added that mental health issues should not be treated as a weakness.
Mr Mills, who was in financial services for three decades and previously sat on the Board of Trustees of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, recommended some steps companies here can take towards promoting mental wellness in the workplace.
"Treating mental illness in the workforce starts with eliminating all possible stress triggers.
"Toxic managers should be held accountable, and sent for help.
"Root out purposeless meetings, don't call your colleagues after office hours, and certainly not on weekends, unless it's an emergency," he said.
Mr Mills added that staff should also not be expected to respond to an e-mail "at some ungodly hour".
"Don't treat mental health issues as a weakness. We expect others to be considerate of us.
"And here's a newsflash: They expect the same consideration from us."
He said it is now time to put to use the lessons learnt.
"We must all be prepared to build on the momentum, which the pandemic has provided, and not waste this moment in history to make meaningful changes to how we as societies and businesses treat mental illness."
Yesterday's inaugural ceremony saw 12 companies recognised for their efforts in creating a mentally healthy working environment.
These include offering job opportunities to persons with mental health issues, educating staff on mental health issues, and promoting positive mental health awareness at the workplace.
Ms Ang Li May, chief executive of non-profit Bizlink Centre Singapore, said it is important to have a culture in which people understand one another's working styles and help those with mental health conditions feel comfortable in the workplace.
"It's about how we help them to cope if there's a project coming in (or) a more stressful period," she said.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, who was at the ceremony, said mental well-being at the workplace has become a growing concern, especially as employees face changes in working arrangements amid the pandemic.
"It is therefore encouraging to see companies doing their part to care for and support their employees' mental well-being - and that we recognise these efforts through initiatives like the Silver Ribbon Awards," he added.
He said that supporting the mental well-being of workers is a priority for the Government, citing several recent efforts such as the launch of the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces in November.
Silver Ribbon Award recipients
- Bizlink Centre Singapore
- Jardines Mindset
- Jebsen & Jessen Group
- Johnson & Johnson Singapore
- Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (Singapore)
- Pocari Sweat Singapore
- Project X
- PSA Corporation
- Rio Tinto
- Singapore Civil Defence Force
- Twitter Asia-Pacific