Workwell Leaders

Our Mission

We aim to build mentally healthy workplaces for employees and organisations to thrive through (a) leadership programmes and practices that promote an inclusive and supportive workplace culture; and (b) organisation-wide implementation frameworks and resources to improve capacity and capability for employee wellbeing.​

Workwell Leaders

Our Vision

We envision every leader to champion wellbeing as a strategic and ESG priority for their organisations and take ownership of mental health as a fundamental responsibility for themselves and their work communities.

Workwell Leaders

Our Chairperson's Message

Mental wellbeing is a human condition and therefore uniquely personal. Our state of mind is often not visible to others, sometimes not even to ourselves. We spend most of our waking hours at work but how aware are we of the mental health challenges that we and our co-workers may be facing? What about the entrenched stigma (social, self and structural) that still exists against mental health at the workplace that prevents help-seeking and compromises the ability of so many to live meaningful lives?

I had my personal brush with depression at the height of my professional career in 2006 as a leader and entrepreneur, and know how debilitating this can be. Focusing on C-suite leaders, not only to make them aware of the issue of mental health as an organisational strategic challenge, but also to help them recognise their own vulnerability by providing access to resources to support leaders and their people – these first intents lay the foundation of WorkWell Leaders.

I am grateful and proud of how WorkWell Leaders has evolved. We started as a group of like-minded leaders and believers coming together to support each other in championing for mentally healthy workplaces through culture change. This action-oriented leaders’ community has since become an incorporated organisation and a registered charity with a team of hired professionals and a robust calendar of programmes, in addition to our Learning Sessions and signature CEO Dialogues.

I welcome you to join us. Let’s be well and lead well, together.

Anthea Ong

Founding Chairperson

Our Origin

Workwell Leaders

September 2018

In September 2018, the first ever nation-wide mental health anti-stigma campaign was launched to correct misconceptions, raise awareness and promote greater social inclusion of persons in recovery from mental health conditions.

Together with the campaign, the National Council of Social Service issued its 2017 Study on Attitudes towards Persons with Mental Health Conditions in Singapore.

One of the findings, that over 5 in 10 are not willing to live, live nearby or work with persons with mental health conditions. This finding hit Anthea Ong hard.

Having personally worked through her own bout of depression more than 15 years earlier, Anthea realised the magnitude of the challenge: mental health stigma is deeply entrenched in our society and our workplace. It dawned on her that mental health at work cannot merely be a “HR” responsibility but one that needs to start with a change in culture and attitudes towards mental health. And to shift workplace culture, we need to focus on the leaders.

Even before September 2018, Anthea had been discussing this issue widely, including bringing together 20 business leaders for an informal luncheon hosted by DBS in May 2018 to discuss what can be done. With these initial discussions and research into the mental health support system in Singapore, this group of leaders started to crystallise a view of the mental health landscape. While there were toolkits, medical and professional help in the ecosystem, the more upstream issue of creating a mentally healthy workplace culture remained largely unaddressed. There was clearly a gap.

The seed of “WorkWell Leaders” – with the vision to create something that focuses solely on and sustains the effort with leaders on mental health, across the private, people and public sectors – was planted. This leaders’ community and their affiliates came together to put ideas into action by funding and developing workplace mental health models and leadership behaviours to plug this gap.

Workwell Leaders
Pre Incorporation

2018 - August 2021

WorkWell Leaders started as an informal workgroup in May 2018. Anthea Ong came together with 20 fellow C-suite leaders at a luncheon meeting hosted by DBS to create a community of CEOs and leaders to address the need for culture change in workplaces to address mental health stigma and discrimination, and to rally leaders to champion workplace wellbeing and employee mental health as a strategic priority.

This first meeting also kicked off the Quarterly Learning Sessions (QLS) for members and invited guests to learn from each other on challenges and best practices of implementation of mental health initiatives at the organisational level. Members began taking turns to host these meetings.

That same year, in tandem with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the workgroup garnered another 65 employers to commit to making mental health awareness a priority in their organisations by sharing the Beyond the Label national anti-mental health stigma campaign video to all their employees as well as introducing programmes on mental health across their organisations.

In October 2019, WWL’s first CEO Dialogue was launched and hosted by member PwC Singapore as a unique closed-door, by invitation-only forum for CEOS to learn from and with each other about leadership behaviours and practices for themselves personally. They also delved into their impact as leaders who can change workplace culture to building mentally healthy and thriving workplaces. Each CEO also nominated a “Plus One” from their organisation to attend with them. As a show of commitment, 17 CEOs and Leaders signed a pledge to champion mental wellbeing as a leadership priority.

Our half yearly CEO Dialogues became the first and only leaders’ forum in Singapore singularly focused on mental wellbeing at workplaces.

In March 2020, in response to Covid-19, some members of WorkWell Leaders came together to create the first Workplace Mental Wellness Guide for employers and employees to understand and manage the stress of an emerging and disruptive crisis. This timely guide was jointly funded by Our Singapore Fund and Hush TeaBar, and was distributed to all employers through the Ministry of Manpower and all employees through NTUC.

In the same year, WWL held two virtual CEO Dialogues and four Quarterly Learning Sessions hosted by different WWL members. The membership grew to 100 CEOs and Leaders representing 50 organisations representing over 110,000 employees across Singapore.

In January 2021, eight CEOS/Leaders and Anthea initiated a Planning Council to formalise the group and institutionalise the work of WorkWell Leaders into a full-fledged non-profit entity.

Workwell Leaders

In August 2021

WorkWell Leaders was formally incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) with a full-time Executive Director and working team. Seven members of the Planning Council became the founding board members of the CLG. The registered entity is WorkWell Leaders Limited (WWL). A fundraising campaign was also officially launched.

With the incorporation, the vision and mission together with the blue elephant logo of WWL were formally adopted.

The adage “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room” asks CEOs and leaders to prioritise destigmatising mental health in the workplace. With its trunk raised to the sky, the elephant is calling for committed leaders to take active steps to drive this change. The colour blue, which is often associated with a less positive state of mind, signifies the need to embrace mental struggles in order to build a healthy, happy and productive workforce.

Workwell Leaders
Registered Charity

2021 - November 2022

In December 2021 WWL held its First Board Meeting as a CLG with all Board members in attendance. Each Board member leads a board committee in Nominations, Audit, Finance, HR, Membership and Programme. Hsieh Fu Hua also joined us as Honorary Advisor.

2021 saw another three Quarterly Learning Sessions, the significant year finished on a high note with a virtual CEO Dialogue which was attended by Minister of Manpower Dr Tan See Leng as the Closing Keynote.

From 2022 onwards, aside from the Quarterly Learning Sessions and semi-annual CEO Dialogues, WWL launched CEO Commit (a personal wellbeing guide for leaders) CEO Connect (a peer support programme for CEOs), CEO Breathe (a monthly mindfulness session and Lead Well: Share (training on organisational mental health frameworks.

To advocate for mental health in the workplace, WWL in conjunction with member CEOs, presented to over 350 business and community leaders at events hosted by the Association of Banks of Singapore, Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Agency for Integrated Care. ​

Workwell Leaders
WorkWell Leaders Wellbeing Awards and Gala Dinner

March 2023

WWL held the inaugural WorkWell Leaders Awards showcasing progress being made towards the national priority of changing workplace culture for the mental wellbeing of workers and their families.

Alongside Guest of Honour, President Halimah Yacob, four hundred business and community leaders and their teams, including the likes of Chairman of NUS Board of Trustees Hsieh Fu Hua and DBS Group CEO Piyush Gupta, gathered for the awards and gala dinner, which was held on 31st March 2023 at The Conrad Centennial, Singapore.

Across two award categories of BE WELL (recognising leadership) and LEAD WELL (recognising organisation-wide programmes), the award winners demonstrated courage, compassion, commitment, and clarity in creating safe, inclusive, and resilient workplaces.

Annual Reports and Financial Statements