Centuries or even decades ago, if you told someone you had mental health issues they’d slowly back away from you as if you said you enjoyed torturing pigeons in your spare time.
But as consciousness around mental health grew, the stigma around it started to dissipate.
One of the concerns of many Singaporeans with mental health conditions is how it would affect their employability.
You probably know someone who has not sought help for their mental health issues in fear that it would be on their ‘record’.
Thankfully, this won’t be a problem anymore.
MOM: No Need To Declare Mental Health Condition When Applying For Job in S’pore
According to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), Singaporeans are no longer required to declare their mental health conditions in job application forms because it is discriminatory, and likely to stigmatise certain applicants.
TAFEP has recently updated its guidelines and now advises employers that they “should not ask job applicants to declare personal information such as their mental health condition unless there is a job related requirement.”
This signals a shift in the way companies hire employees; TAFEP stated that the guide will ensure that all employers hire based on merit, reported The Straits Times.
Prior to this updated guideline, employers were required to exclude considerations based on the following:
- marital status
- family responsibilities
According to MS News, if an employer wanted to include any of these fields, they would have to demonstrate the information’s relevance.
Clearly, this move aims to remove the stigma around mental health. Who would want to disclose such a personal matter to a company, knowing that it’ll likely change the way they are perceived?
Ms Porsche Poh, Executive Director of Silver Ribbon, says that many job applicants do not declare their mental health conditions for fear of discrimination.
Thankfully, though, many international firms have stopped asking about mental illnesses.
And if companies do not abide by TAFEP guidelines in the future, they could be liable to enforcement actions by the Ministry of Manpower on the grounds of discrimination.
TAFEP has already engaged more than 8,000 employers to raise awareness.
The president approves
In a Facebook post, President Halimah Yacob affirmed TAFEP’s recent move, saying she was “really glad” about the change.
In her post, she wrote “Many have campaigned against a requirement in job application forms for a person to state his or mental health condition. I’m really glad that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices has now declared that this is discriminatory. Indeed it is.”
She also rightly pointed out that not only is considering one’s mental health when hiring discriminatory, but it’s also a “major contributing factor as to why people with mental health issues do not seek treatment”.
However, less than a quarter of sufferers ever seek professional medical help.
This may be a small step, but change has to start somewhere, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to talk about our mental health as openly as we do about our physical illnesses.