Credit: Brahm Centre
In recent years, awareness about mental health and resilience in the workplace has grown exponentially. A 2019 study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy an estimated US$1 trillion a year in lost productivity. COVID-19 has further aggravated anxiety levels across the world, as the pandemic has brought much uncertainty, such as the fear of economic toll, job security and loss of physical connections with loved ones.
The same WHO study, however, also found that workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.
Here in SingHealth, we have a myriad of initiatives to combat burnout and stress, one of which is staff counselling. We spoke to two SingHealth staff counsellors to find out more and how it can help us when we feel overwhelmed or troubled.
What is staff counselling?
The term “staff counselling” might sound a bit daunting, but Ms Koh Sock Sim and Ms Low Hui Ching, staff counsellors for SingHealth, assure us that it isn’t.
“Staff counselling is for anyone, but especially for those who might be experiencing difficulties resolving issues or overcoming challenges either at work or home. Seeking help to clarify your thoughts and feelings can prove to be very helpful in putting your mind at ease!” Hui Ching explained, “In addition, there is no need to wait for problems to become serious before seeking the help. In fact, it is better to do so before they worsen!”
“We might sometimes feel alone and overwhelmed in our struggles, especially if we are unable to find someone to talk to about them. I encourage staff to consider staff counselling, to allow us to journey with them as they navigate their challenges,” added Sock Sim.
With over 40 years of combined experience in the Medical Social Work (MSW) and counselling fields under their belts, both Sock Sim and Hui Ching stressed that confidentiality is a given. “We are complete sticklers for confidentiality!” Hui Ching emphasized. “You can be assured that your information and sessions will be kept strictly confidential, unless you pose a threat to your own life or that of others.” In fact, all SingHealth staff counsellors abide by the
professional code of ethics for counsellors to provide a safe space for staff to seek help.
It is no surprise that in their many interactions with staff from across SingHealth, both counsellors say they have been touched by the stories and lives of those they have worked with.
Sock Sim recounts her work with Leia (not her real name), a staff who was a newcomer both to her institution and to adult work life at the same time. “Leia struggled to cope with the stress and responsibilities that came from overseeing and managing a whole unit. At the time, she felt lonely and fearful, having tried sharing her concerns with her peers but finding herself unable to form any rapport or find support,” shared Sock Sim.
Leia sought staff counselling and Sock Sim worked with her over a span of eight months, where Leia was able to share her challenges and thoughts safely. Sock Sim also guided her through various “homework”, such as techniques to heighten her mind awareness and gentle reframing of negative thoughts. “I saw her blossom and grow over time. Even after her “graduation” from our sessions, she’s shared with me that she still carries these insights and lessons with her in day-to-day life.”
“Sometimes, people just need a listening ear, an understanding mind and an open heart to turn to. I treasure every encounter!” she said.
“We understand that it does take a lot of courage to take the first step to seek help. We strongly encourage you to do so and allow us to journey the rest of the way alongside you!”
The SingHealth staff counsellors are able to provide counselling for various types of issues, including work, family and relationship concerns. SingHealth staff counsellors are a part of a team of counsellors at Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital who provide support to staff from across the cluster.
The SingHealth Staff Care Centre (S2C2) enables cluster-wide access to the counselling services provided by the four hospitals and SingHealth HQ, as well as the cluster-wide Peer Support network.
Wondering what the difference is between Peer Support and Staff Counselling? Stay tuned to TM for more!
If you or someone you know would like to seek staff counselling, reach out by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the helplines found in the S2C2 Infopedia resource page. Please refer to the full staff counselling FAQ below to find out more.
What kind of help do the SingHealth HQ staff counsellors provide?
When should I consider the option of counselling?
You can go for counselling when you wish to discuss with a professional your concerns or issues that you have difficulties resolving. Examples include work, family and relationship difficulties.
Is it confidential? Will my boss need to know? Will the counsellors tell my boss what I say?
Staff counselling is strictly confidential unless you pose as a threat to your own life or someone else’s life. Our staff counsellors abide by the professional code of ethics for counsellors (https://sacsingapore.org/membership/code-of-ethics/) and will provide a safe space for you to talk about your issues. In the event that your information might be requested, our staff counsellors will discuss with and seek your permission before disclosing any information on a need-to-know basis.
How do I get counselling from the SingHealth HQ staff counsellors? Who do I contact?
You are able to get in touch with the SingHealth staff counsellors through the following avenues:
The SingHealth HQ Staff Counsellors are able to provide counselling for various types of issues including work, family and relationship concerns.
Please feel free to call us at our SingHealth Staff Counselling helpline when you need someone to share your troubles with.
When should I refer a staff for staff counselling?
After you have directly engaged staff and still observe:
Do I need to pay?
- Increase in stressors impacting work, mood and/or social functioning
- Whenever you feel he/she can benefit from additional support from staff counsellors
No, the service is complimentary for staff.