A pledge to support workers' mental health

Mr Hsieh (7th from left) with 18 other leaders who signed a pledge to champion and prioritise mental wellbeing at the workplace. Ms Anthea Ong (8th from left), founder of the WorkWell Leaders Workgroup and a Nominated Member of Parliament, is holding the pledge. (Photo: PwC Singapore)

NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua is among the 19 CEOs and key leaders from both the private and public sectors who signed a joint pledge on 17 October to prioritise mental wellbeing within their organisations, and the wider Singapore workforce. The signing took place at the end of the inaugural CEOs + Leaders Breakfast Dialogue held at PwC Singapore. The Dialogue was organised by the WorkWell Leaders Workgroup, a volunteer-run ground-up initiative made up of leaders who champion workplace mental wellbeing as a strategic priority.

The leaders — who included National University Health System (NUHS) CEO Professor John Wong; National Council of Social Services (NCSS) CEO Mr Sim Gim Guan; Deputy Secretary of the Public Service Division Ms Teoh Zsin Woon; WWF Singapore CEO Ms Maureen DeRooji; and Nomura Singapore Limited CEO Mr Toshiya Yoshida — shared strategic and practical insights on employee mental health within their respective organisations.

Said Mr Hsieh, who was the special guest speaker at the event, “The WorkWell Leaders Workgroup CEO + Leaders Breakfast Dialogue was a positive and enriching experience. Mental health issues are much more widespread than what we think and leaders need to accept that it is prevalent in the work place. As with all change, it begins with the leaders and they should ‘walk the talk’. This morning’s dialogue and pledge signifies our commitment to champion and prioritise mental wellbeing within our organisations, and the wider Singapore community. Some of us are further along in this journey, and some may be just starting — what’s important is that we are collectively taking a step in the right direction on this vital issue.”


Mr Hsieh speaking at the inaugural CEOs + Leaders Breakfast Dialogue, held at PwC Singapore. (Photo: PwC Singapore)

The 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health showed that one in seven adults in Singapore experiences a mental health condition in their lifetime. Four out of five do not seek help for reasons such as stigma, financial concerns and the perception that the problem would go away on its own.

Studies show that investing in workplace mental wellbeing enhances productivity and long-term business sustainability. An NCSS survey of 505 companies in 2017 found that for every $1 invested in workplace adjustments such as flexible work arrangements and job redesigns, an average return of $5.60 is generated through outcomes like reductions in absenteeism and medical claims, and increased productivity.   

Measures in place to ensure the mental wellbeing of NUS staff include the Employee Assistance Programme, which offers professional support and consultation, counselling services as well as lunchtime talks on topics ranging from healthy eating to mindfulness.