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Helping broker partners tackle mental health issues in the workplace

On 25th April, Aetna International hosted its first “Fit for Duty” event for select broker partners. The event brought together experts from MyDoc Asia, Workplace Options, and the Singapore Association for Mental Health to talk about “Mental Wellness in the Workplace” and more than 50 brokers from across the region.

Held at the Holey Moley mini-golf club in Singapore, the exclusive event was well-attended by more than 50 brokers and comprised a panelist-led presentation and discussion, interactive games, networking opportunities and refreshments. Attendees were keen to learn more about the mental wellness, discuss effective corporate health and wellness strategies, and find out about the solutions available to support employees with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The panelists included Dr Shireen Henry, Director of Clinical Operations at MyDoc — Asia’s gateway to 24/7/365 world-class coordinated outpatient care; Ms Chen Jing, Counsellor and Incident Manager at Workplace Options — the world’s largest privately owned provider of integrated employee wellbeing solutions; and Ms Ngo Lee Yian, Executive Director at the Singapore Association for Mental Health — the organisation focused on mental health services and community resilience in the island city-state.

Woman speaking at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Woman speaking at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore
Attendees listening to a speaker at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Attendees listening to a speaker at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore


“At Aetna, we believe that physical and mental wellness go hand-in-hand. Beyond emphasising the importance of maintaining our health through a good diet and regular exercise, we have also dedicated resources towards better understanding the challenges in dealing with mental health issues,” said Ms Fiona Lee, Head of Distribution, Aetna International. “We hope to equip our broker partners with the right knowledge around this sensitive topic so that they have a better understanding of mental wellness and how to help their clients manage such issues in the workplace.” 

Aetna International employees posing at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Aetna International employees posing at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore
People gathering and talking at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore People gathering and talking at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore

A quick straw poll amongst the attendees highlighted that there is still some stigma around the subject of mental illness in Singapore.

Ms Lee explains, “Human Resources (HR) teams express concerns around not be adequately trained or not feeling comfortable with handling mental issues in the workplace. Meanwhile, employees are afraid to speak up for fear of being penalised at work. It’s a long road but it is important for companies to continue and open up about a topic that impacts most of us at one time or another, and to offer effective resources for employees.”

Colleagues playing a game at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Colleagues playing a game at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore
Man playing golf at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Man playing golf at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore


Across Asia, Aetna has seen an approximately 19% increase in annualised claims for psychological and psychiatric services since 2015. The Singapore and Hong Kong markets have also seen an average increase of 30% in annualised claims for psychological and psychiatric services in the same period. To better tackle this issue and equip industry with relevant knowledge, Aetna partnered Mind HK to research the state of mental wellness in Hong Kong in 2018.

Aetna International Head of Distribution Fiona Lee speaking at Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore Aetna International Head of Distribution Fiona Lee speaking at Fit for Duty event on 25 April 2019 in Singapore
#ActionWithAetna sign at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event in Singapore #ActionWithAetna sign at Aetna International's first Fit for Duty event in Singapore


Today, Aetna’s award-winning Summit health plans for employers offer a built-in Employee Assistance Program — at no additional cost — to help companies support the mental wellbeing of their employees. With the program, Aetna members get access to confidential counselling from behavioural health experts in 180 countries around the world; by phone call, email, web and even chat messaging via an app. 

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