Employment goes a long way to help the mentally ill

The Singapore Association for Mental Health and Jardine Matheson's Mindset Care have been running a programme over the last three years to help people with mental health issues secure employment.
The Singapore Association for Mental Health and Jardine Matheson's Mindset Care have been running a programme over the last three years to help people with mental health issues secure employment.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

I applaud President Halimah Yacob for being such a strong champion of the mental health cause in Singapore (Call to offer 'quality jobs' to those with mental health issues, July 19).

She has on many occasions drawn public attention to the increasing prevalence of mental health disorders in our modern society and supported social service agencies operating in this space.

Her call for employers to offer "quality jobs" is heartening. Multiple studies have shown that the best way for persons in recovery to be reintegrated into society is through employment.

I was impressed when I visited several rehabilitation centres in the US some years ago to learn that many of these centres were run by people with "lived experiences", that is, those who have recovered from a diagnosed mental condition. In fact, one was run wholly by such recovering "peers", including the chief executive officer.

We also met senior state officials who readily shared their own lived experiences with us.

Successful reintegration into the workplace cannot be achieved through skills training alone.

A myriad factors have to be in place, such as the understanding of employers and colleagues, the right human resource policy and work environment design.

The Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Jardine Matheson's Mindset Care have been running a programme over the last three years to help people with mental health issues secure employment.

We have learnt that it is necessary to take a holistic approach in helping our clients reintegrate.

The SAMH Mindset Learning Hub also offers services to help employers understand mental health conditions better and learn how to provide an inclusive work environment for persons in recovery.

Francis Yeoh (Dr)

President

Singapore Association for Mental Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2019, with the headline 'Employment goes a long way to help the mentally ill'. Print Edition | Subscribe