Dec 10 2020

The Pressure Cooker is starting to explode: Mental Health Crisis 2020

“Over 1000 Mental Wellness Start-ups (including 4 in Singapore) fighting against all odds to make a difference! ”

by  Sriram Iyer, Founder & CEO, hrtech.sg



Everyone around is trying hard to keep the lid on and stay in control. Everything looks picture-perfect from the outside, while the pressure actually is building from within (akin to a pressure cooker). Job insecurity; layoffs; financial constraints; social isolation; medical quarantine and remote work are all leading to severe mental stress for employees. (Read about the Pressure Cooker Syndrome)

Not surprisingly, in a LinkedIn poll that we recently administered, 56% of the 445 respondents chose "Blurring Work-Life balance" as the top-most challenge of remote working: https://lnkd.in/gavaQAX)


Is the next pandemic of "mental health" real & lurking around? Can HR Teams & Leaders act quickly to leverage a data-driven & tech-centric approach to address this quickly?

Well, there's a role that all of us to play to raise maximum awareness for the "employee mental wellness" cause, and address the issue before it gets out of control.


Tech & Data-driven Approach to Mental Wellness

We strongly believe that the aspect of "employee mental wellness" can be effectively addressed by leveraging tech & a data-driven approach. Towards this end, we have been writing blogs apart from inviting contributions from mental wellness subject matter experts.

Here's a representative sample from our hrtech.sg blogs repository:

  1. How COVID is Proving That Data-Driven Wellbeing is a Necessity by Dr. Dilraj Kalsi & Sukh Kalsi, Founders, Kalsi and Kalsi
  2.  "Mental Health Awareness at Work" - Need of the Hour! focusing on how 4 Singapore Mental Wellness apps - Joye.ai, Intellect.co, Safe Space, Mindfi - are fighting against odds to instill awareness
  3. "Up Close and Personal: Beyond Wellness Programs" from Carmen Wee's session at the PeopleMatters event (Summarised by Swechha Mohapatra)


Pathbreaking Singapore Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces

On 17 Nov 2020, the "Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces" issued an advisory to provide guidance and resources on mental wellness to Singapore's workforce. Truly a path-breaking initiative by any country.

(The Tripartite Advisory was developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in consultation with HR practitioners and social agency partners.)

As per the advisory, in order to support employees' mental well-being, employers are encouraged to adopt the following practices:

  • Appoint mental wellness champions to raise employees' awareness on mental well-being and mental health conditions through talks and workshops;
  • Provide access to counselling services such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to allow employees to speak to a professional on their work and non-work related challenges (See Annex A);
  • Train managers to spot signs of mental distress, and on where they can refer employees to seek help from; and
  • Recognise the need for employees to have adequate rest outside work hours by establishing a work-life harmony policy to provide clarity on after-hours work communication."


In addition to providing resources and helplines that employees and self-employed persons can utilise to safeguard their own mental well-being, the advisory also offers the following health tips for work-from-home arrangements.


For the detailed report, here's the MOM Press Release.


"Mental Health + Venture Capital"

It has also been our focus to showcase some strong contributions being made by key individuals and enterprises in this space. Stephen Hays, Founder & Managing Partner, What If Ventures has been focused on changing the human experience by helping founders build solutions for our mental fitness.


In his blog titled "Approaching 1,000 Mental Health Startups in 2020" that was penned before the pandemic really started showing its impact, Stephen Hays has been tracking the Mental Health Startups Space intensively as part of the company's investment focus. The following image is a screenshot from his pitch deck that tracks the evolution of the MIND TECH Landscape.

While there are expected 1000+ Mental Health Startups globally, here's a representative sample of the landscape across various categories: Digital Therapeutics; Mental Wellness, Meditation & Sleep; Telehealth; and Measurement & Testing among other segments.


Many individuals and entities are stepping up their support to address the grave scenario we are facing. As a part of our commitment to bringing more awareness and galvanize action, hrtech.sg plans to create a specific category of "Mental Wellness" in both our hrtech.sg marketplace and in the 2021 Singapore HRTech MarketMap.

(Here's the link to the 2020 Singapore HRTech Market Map. We have been co-creating the Singapore HRTech Market Map with Adrian Tan for the last 2 years)

Do you also feel strongly about a Tech & Data-driven Approach to Mental Wellness? Share your thoughts and perspectives of how we can collectively address the "pressure cooker syndrome" before it explodes.


Sriram Iyer is the founder & CEO of hrtech.sg, a Singapore- headquartered hrtech market development and analyst firm. A Human Resources practitioner with over two decades of experience, he is also a Certified Strengths Coach and a passionate hrtech advocate. In his career, he has played leadership roles with the Singtel Group Enterprise and Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions. LinkedIn

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