Measures to support mental wellness of public officers
Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on measures to support mental wellness of public officers
Parliamentary Sitting: 29 Nov 2022
Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Prime Minister (a) what measures are in place to support and enhance the mental wellness of public officers during the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) what has been the uptake of such mental wellness programmes and measures; and (c) what lessons have been learned about mental wellness support for public officers from the implementation of these programmes.
Written Reply by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service:
The prolonged COVID-19 fight disrupted many aspects of the Public Service’s work and added significantly to the demands and stress on public officers. The Public Service has launched a suite of initiatives to better support public officers.
PSD launched a single WOG hotline for confidential counselling services to provide all public officers a safe channel to speak to trained counsellors who can help them cope with work stressors. An average of 350 unique officers have utilized the hotline every month since its launch in March 2021.
PSD organized a range of complementary wellness activities regularly that cover topics relating to mental wellbeing, physical health, and nutrition. More than 28,000 officers from across agencies have attended close to 130 sessions since April 2020. A wide variety of courses related to mental wellbeing are also offered by the Civil Service College to public officers.
PSD worked with MOHT to develop mindline@work, a one-stop repository of self-help resources, to support their mental wellbeing. Since its launch in September 2021, more than 18,000 unique visits to the site have been recorded.
In addition, PSD has built a community of Wellness Ambassadors across the public sector agencies, to serve as added support at the workplace. They reach out to peers, and officers who feel they need a listening ear can also approach these ambassadors. The wellness ambassadors provide basic emotional support to fellow colleagues and act as ambassadors for mental wellbeing. There are currently about 2,000 WA across job levels and agencies.
Beyond the provision of mental wellbeing resources, support from leaders and managers was key to caring for public officers’ mental health. To encourage a culture of openness and emphasize the role that leaders and supervisors play, PSD actively enlists our leaders to de-stigmatise mental health issues and support the wellbeing of their teams. For instance, PSD launched a week-long campaign in 2021, called “Care4U” Week, which encouraged leaders and supervisors to adopt WOG wellbeing initiatives and policies in their workplaces, and equipped leaders with skills to identify signs of mental stress so that they can support officers and their peers. As we transit to the new normal, we will continue to adapt this suite of initiatives to meet the needs of public officers.