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TAKING HEART

Wedding favours to spread message on mental well-being

Proceeds received by Mindset, which is partnering Mandarin Oriental in this project, will go to mental health outreach activities and persons-in-recovery

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Petite jars of confectionery, where the finishing touches were put together by clients of Mindset. These are bundled together with the different wedding packages that the hotel offers.

Singapore

MANDARIN Oriental, Singapore, has partnered Mindset Care Limited, a registered charity initiated by the Jardine Matheson Group, to develop wedding favours for couples.

Usha Brockmann, director of communications at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, said: "The hotel is dedicated to contributing back to communities and such efforts are a testament to our dedication to make a positive impact."

Proceeds received by Mindset will go towards funding various mental health outreach activities of the charity and from next year, the amount will go to Singapore Association for Mental Health, Mindset's VWO partner of this project, and PIRs involved in this project as an allowance.

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Mindset's persons-in-recovery (PIRs) help add the finishing touches to the jars of candies which are bundled together with the different wedding packages that the hotel offers to raise awareness for mental health issues.

Voon Yen Sing, assistant director, clinical services, Singapore Association for Mental Health, said: "The partnership allows us to raise greater awareness for mental health as well as benefit the PIRs. Through creating and packing wedding favours, it allows them to be more engaged. The proceeds of the wedding favours will go to the PIRs involved in this project as allowance and they are able to earn some income from it which further builds their confidence and supports their reintegration with society."

In a study conducted by the National Council of Social Service - which was also brought up by Nominated Member of Parliament Anthea Ong in Parliament on Nov 20 - close to one in two Singaporeans are not willing to work with persons with mental health issues while 70 per cent agreed that negative attitudes of co-workers are major barriers to employing PIRs.

Jeffery Tan, company secretary of Mindset Care Limited, said that the mental health community in Singapore remains underserved and there are few private sector partners dedicated to supporting this cause. He added that Jardine - which is the parent company of Mandarin Oriental, Singapore - has been supporting mental health since 2011.

When asked about the challenges faced when embarking on this project with the hotel, Mr Tan said: "Fulfilling large orders of wedding favours, usually for wedding sizes of 200 guests or upwards, is not a simple task. In addition, bringing up the topic of mental health to wedding couples requires greater tact and sensibility, due to the social stigma that is often associated with mental health."

But he added that the coming of like-minded organisations inspired them to overcome the challenges.

On doing more to help this group of people, Mr Tan said: "Raising awareness and reducing the stigma is the first step to helping mental health PIRs reintegrate into society and this often begins with creating more opportunities to start difficult conversations."

Mr Tan said that the private sector can play a key role in supporting mental health, for example, by providing job opportunities which give PIRs an income, confidence and the chance to interact with people and learn to reintegrate with society.

In fact, Jardine's support for mental health goes beyond supporting PIRs as regular lunchtime talks have been organised to educate its employees on mental health and wellness. They have ambassadors who are trained in not only supporting PIRs but also identifying mental health issues in fellow employees.

This is in line with what Ms Ong mentioned at the debate on the Employment (Amendment) Bill in Parliament when she highlighted the need for Ministry of Manpower to ensure that the protection of well-being of employees goes beyond physical safety and welfare to include psychological and social needs.

"We must always remember 'human' comes first when we talk about human resources or human capital. There is a great need to change attitudes and perceptions of mental health through education and legislation, from school through work. Employee well-being must be an intentional outcome of our employment policies," Ms Ong said.