SINGAPORE — A series of courses under Kaplan Singapore has been helping those who have recovered from mental health conditions at the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) prepare for the workforce and reintegrate into society.

Fully subsidised by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, the courses have assisted more than 40 people aged between 20 and 65.

Not only have their self-esteem and confidence increased through the training, two-thirds of the beneficiaries have found jobs since completing the courses.

Among them is a 58-year-old customer-service trainee who wanted to be known only as Paul.

For the last 35 years, he has been living with chronic schizophrenia, a condition that he has learnt to manage with rehabilitation and medication.

Last year, Paul took up the courses offered by Kaplan and picked up tips on how to manage stress in the workplace. The trainers also helped him adjust his expectations to manage his anxiety. Paul said he no longer needs to worry about keeping a job.

“Now, I’m more confident, I can set goals (of staying in the job for) two to five years,” he said.

SAMH Associate Director James Wong said there is a pool of people in the association who have successfully recovered from mental illness and are looking for employment opportunities.

“Our clients and beneficiaries need an opportunity to reintegrate into society, lead normal lives and be gainfully employed,” he added.

The SAMH currently helps about 8,000 people with mental health conditions.

Those who sign up for the programmes attend a minimum of three two-day courses, which provide them with basic training that focuses on soft skills such as teamwork and developing emotional competence in the workplace. Tools that they can use to help them handle stress and anxiety as well as prepare for job interviews are also taught with the help of case studies and role play.

The courses are the last stop in a series of training these individuals undergo with the SAMH, said Kaplan Executive Vice-President Leon Choong, who added that the programmes also help them perform better before prospective employers.

Of the more than 40 people who have attended the courses, some have secured jobs in industries such as cleaning services and retail.

This year, Kaplan and the SAMH said they are looking to introduce new courses, such as computer skills training, for the next batch. The SAMH also partners food and beverage, as well as cleaning firms to help those with the association secure job placements and on-the-job training.

By Siau Ming En
Source: Today, 27 February 2014 © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission. Click to view PDF