Boost to access and affordability of mental health services for employees


12 August 2020
Singapore, Singapore


As part of a wider push to provide better, more affordable and easily accessible pathways to mental health care for Singapore employees, Mercer Marsh Benefits Singapore (“Mercer”) and Aviva have joined forces to provide current corporate insurance plan clients the opportunity to enhance employer-provided insurance under a Mental Wellness Plan that fills a gap in the market for outpatient psychiatric and psychologist benefits.


Although more than $3 billion is reportedly already spent annually in Singapore on stress-related health treatments, Mercer has seen a spike in demand for and utilization of mental health support among the employees of its clients due to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many employers in Singapore are now recognizing the need to provide more comprehensive, affordable and accessible mental health services to their employees to support their mental wellbeing.


In the new shape of work where there are dramatic changes in how employees work, long work hours, a heavy workload and worries about job security and financial commitments can all affect employees’ mental health and wellbeing.


In a recent survey across Asia Pacific conducted by Mercer, 62% of employees said they were experiencing stress arising from fear of being made redundant while 64% said they were concerned about the impact of working from home on their work-life-balance.  The possibility of wage cuts due to COVID-19 was causing worry among 45% of employees. Such additional stresses can lead to lower productivity, disengagement, and an increase in days away from work.


Globally, major depressive disorder, mild depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and alcohol dependence and abuse are all on the rise among employees.


“If there’s a positive to come from COVID-19 and its impact on workforces, it’s that traditional stigma associated with employees acknowledging mental health issues and organizations providing pathways to better mental health is improving in Singapore. Mental health is increasingly being recognised as an equally important factor to physical health and wellbeing in a productive and healthy workforce,” said Neil Narale, Singapore Health Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits.


Access to comprehensive mental health services can be expensive in Singapore and historically has not been covered by some local group medical plans adopted by employers. The new Mental Wellness Plan is designed to make access to mental health services easier and more affordable for employers and employees for the treatment of mental health issues that may otherwise go untreated.


“Providing employee access to and coverage for a wide range of mental health services has never been more important,” Mr Narale added.


“Mental health awareness has been gaining traction in Singapore, however it can still be taboo to acknowledge. Employee wellbeing has always been a key priority and we strive to create a safe space for our workforce, both physically and mentally. We also have a responsibility in addressing mental wellbeing outcomes as part of the pandemic response. Increasing accessibility to mental health treatments and services is a step in the right direction in normalising these issues,” said Manu Tandon, Head, Group Life & Health Distribution, Aviva Singapore.


The new plan is now available to employers with a medical plan insured with Aviva and will include coverage for employee mental health conditions, coverage for the cost of approved medications, access to a carefully selected panel of well qualified mental health professionals and cashless payment options.


To read more about how to enhance your workforce’s wellbeing, visit Mercer’s page on employee wellbeing in the new shape of work here


About Mercer
Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 23,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh,which advises individual and commercial clients of all sizes on insurance broking and innovative risk management solutions; Guy Carpenter, which develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities; and Oliver Wyman, which serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer and @mercerinasia.