Parliamentary Speeches

Mental Health Support for Home Team Officers and Fostering Values That Respect Diversity at Workplace – Speech by Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development

Published: 06 February 2024

1. Mr Speaker, I will deliver my speech in Mandarin, on behalf of Minister.

2. Minister Shanmugam has spoken at length on the case and the broader issues of workplace discrimination and mental health support for Home Team officers.

3. My statement will be in two parts:

(i) One: MHA’s efforts in supporting the mental well-being of our officers; and

(ii) Two: Fostering a culture that values and respects diversity at the workplace.

4. Sgt Uvaraja’s passing is very regrettable, but we must clarify that investigations found that most of the allegations, including that he was ill-treated, bullied, ostracised and unfairly held back in his career, and that other officers’ misconduct had been covered up, were demonstrably false. Where the complaints were substantiated, appropriate actions had already been taken at that time, and errant officers had already been taken to task.  

5. AGC had reviewed the findings, and decided that no further action needs to be taken against any of the involved officers. 

6. Now, let me speak on MHA’s efforts in supporting our officers’ mental well-being.

Mha’s Efforts in Supporting Officers’ Mental Well-Being

7. Mental health struggles can affect us all, regardless of age, gender or profession. The pandemic had exacerbated some of the stressors. Based on MOH’s National Population Health Survey 2022, the prevalence of poor mental health had increased from 13.4 per cent in 2020 to 17 per cent in 2022.

8. On 5 October 2023, MOH launched the National Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy. The key initiatives include training employees to support and care for their colleagues’ mental well-being, training supervisors to recognise common mental health conditions, and offering mental wellness programmes to equip employers and employees with the skills and knowledge to better take charge of their mental well-being.   

9. In the Home Team, the mental health and well-being of our officers are of utmost importance.  As shared in Parliament in October 2022, our Home Team officers are provided with various forms of support. 

10. They have access to MHA’s in-house psychological services, and peer support programmes comprising officers trained as para-counsellors. There is a 24/7 helpline managed in-house by our psychologists and para-counsellors, as well as external agency-administered services. To provide officers with the assurance of confidentiality, and for them to feel safe to come forward, they are not required to report their engagement of such assistance.  

11. There are also organisational level initiatives to raise awareness and educate officers on the importance of mental health and how to deal with stressors.

(i) Officers attend resilience building workshops and awareness programmes to learn the ways to cope and adapt when dealing with operational and work stresses. These are offered when they join MHA; 

(ii) There are also courses to train supervisors on how to support their officers;

(iii) There are communication initiatives to raise officers’ literacy on common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicide, and inform them of the various helplines available. In October every year, the Home Team Psychological Services community organises a month-long campaign to remind officers on the importance of self-care and where to seek help when needed.

12. Our programmes are regularly reviewed to ensure relevancy and updated with new developments and interventions. 

Foster a Respectful Culture of Diversity in MHA

13. Mr Speaker, Sir, MHA is a large organisation with about 29,000 employees. Our workforce comprises officers from diverse backgrounds. We value and respect the richness such diversity brings, and recognise that maintaining a harmonious workplace in the face of such diversity cannot be taken for granted.  We put in effort to build trust and acceptance, embrace differences, and proactively deal with any bias or racism.

14. In supervisory workshops, sensitivity to and respect of various cultures and races are discussed and reinforced. Officers at all levels are reminded of the importance of cultivating a harassment-free workplace, and how they should support victims of workplace harassment.  There are team cohesion programmes, for officers to bond and get to know each other better. The Home Team Departments also organise celebrations of the important festivals of every race.  These celebrations reinforce our appreciation of the differences among us, promote inclusiveness, and enhance our understanding of each other.

15. In a multi-racial society, everyone plays a part in building a culture of respect. We must keep working at it.  The majority must be sensitive to the concerns of the minority, and be mindful of our actions and words. The minority must not allow suspicion to colour how we perceive every action and word of the majority. 


16. Mr Speaker, Sir, the success of the Home Team requires officers to have team spirit. They must necessarily rely on and count on each other, to be successful. We therefore put strong emphasis on team leaders building strong bonds within their teams, and ensuring that the officers value and respect the diversity in the Home Team.

17. Thank you.