It's Time to Talk about Mental Health: What You Need to Know to be Inclusive
Mr. Budihardjo, Singapore Anglican Community Services, shares how employers can help persons with mental health conditions achieve meaningful careers.
Mr. Vincent Budihardjo is the head of Integrated Employment Services and Senior Services in Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS). Since 2015, he has been journeying with persons with mental health conditions and seniors. He is passionate about helping people and believes that when we do our little part in love, it will go a long way.
Q: Social inclusion such as employment was found to be a key factor to improve the quality of life of persons with mental health conditions. However, stigma and misconceptions are barriers to many seeking meaningful employment. What advice would you give employers who might have concerns about hiring persons with mental health conditions? What are some of the common myths you have encountered and would like to debunk?
Mental health conditions can affect anyone. It is important to promote mental wellness and cultivate a mental health-friendly workplace so that productivity and performance of the organisation can flourish. Stigma and misconceptions of mental health conditions by the general public often put a job applicant with mental health conditions at a disadvantage when it comes to candidate selection. Nevertheless, our experience shows that persons with mental health conditions can contribute positively to the organisations. Here are some common myths that some employers have on persons with mental health conditions:
Myth 1: They cannot tolerate stress and hold a job.
Fact: Employees with mental health conditions are as productive as other employees at the workplace, especially when they receive effective medical treatment and good support from family, friends and colleagues.
Myth 2: They are violent and dangerous.
Fact: The vast majority of persons with mental health conditions are no more violent than anyone else. Only those with serious mental health conditions and are not receiving any treatment may exhibit some violent behaviours.
Myth 3: Only those with a clinical diagnosis have mental health conditions.
Fact: The 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study shows that 1 in 7 people in Singapore has experienced a mood, anxiety or alcohol-use disorder in their lifetime. This means that all of us may be susceptible to mental health conditions if we do not look after our mental health and wellbeing.
Q: A holistic approach is required to support persons with mental health conditions. Could you share the key elements/components necessary to create inclusive workplaces that are able to support employees with mental health conditions in achieving meaningful employment?
- Create room for accommodation and redesign work processes as much as the work unit can accommodate without affecting its productivity.
- Build a safe and conducive work environment, which includes a safe-to-fail practice as well as a culture that promotes life-long learning and development.
- Promote workplace mental wellness and encourage help-seeking behaviours. This includes promoting and providing mental health education and support for employees. The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP+) is an effective programme that provides employees a platform to seek timely help for their mental health challenges*.
- Equip employees, especially those who hold supervisory or managerial roles, with the knowledge and competency to support persons with mental health conditions through training and collaboration with mental health professionals.
- Maintain privacy and confidentiality when engaging with persons with mental health conditions in conversation or consultation relating to mental health.
*SACS offers EAP+ which promotes workplace mental health wellness through the provision of face-to-face counselling and consultations with employees, training and equipping employees with knowledge and skills on mental health and wellness, and training and equipping supervisory team and management executives with knowledge and skills to support their employees with mental health conditions.
This interview article is the first of a two-part series on It’s Time to Talk about Mental Health.
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