The #AreuOK campaign aims to galvanise a mindset shift, instil positive work culture, and create an inclusive and empathetic university environment.

#AreuOK: Cultivating inclusivity and empathy

The global pandemic has changed our work culture, and highlighted the importance of mental health and wellbeing. In December 2020, NUS launched the #AreuOK campaign to drive awareness of mental health, and to create an environment of empathy and inclusivity for staff. The campaign is spearheaded by the Health & Wellbeing (HWB) team and the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit at the Office of the President, in collaboration with various departments across the University.

Before the campaign was launched, an anonymous survey was conducted by the team to gain a deeper understanding of the NUS community’s perceptions on mental health. For instance, the team found that 55% of staff were not aware of NUSHeart, formerly known as the Employee Assistance Programme. NUSHeart is a complimentary round-the-clock confidential counselling service provided to all staff.

The first phase of the campaign, themed “Self-Care Matters”, focused on caring for the mind and body to manage stress and build resilience. Through activities such as the University Health Centre (UHC) Relaxation Techniques Workshop, staff learnt simple methods of deep breathing and releasing clenched muscles to tap into calmness, enabling them to feel refreshed within 10 minutes.

The next phase of the campaign highlighted empathy and respect in the workplace through the #AreuOK conversation series. The first video featured Chief People Officer, Kevin Chua who shared how we can demonstrate empathy in the workplace, and the various university resources that support staff wellbeing, such as NUSHeart.

Kevin sharing his personal experiences and insights during the #AreuOK conversation.

The next conversation featured five NUS Wellbeing Frontline Heroes who shared candidly about their respective roles at the University, in an effort to debunk common myths associated with mental health support.

“It is not weak to have mental health conditions. Asking for help is definitely not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and resilience, as is accepting the fact that one needs help. Wanting to improve the situation and making progress is not easy,” shared Aarthi Subash Nair and Alva Huang, both counsellors from University Counselling Services.

Gordon Lai, Student Wellness Manager at the Office of Student Affairs noted that facilities such as PitStop@YIH reflect the University’s move to prioritise student wellbeing. “I play table tennis and board games there to build rapport with my students,” Gordon said. He added that this space gave students a fun and safe environment to share their stories.  

“Some key takeaways from my role is to be non-judgemental, respectful and patient with other people’s needs and concerns. I learn to be supportive and empower those in distress to come up with alternative strategies when dealing with issues, and making decisions for themselves,” said Yong Lai Cheng, Student Support Manager from the Faculty of Science. Lai Cheng acknowledged that her role has helped her to be more patient and forgiving towards others, as well as herself.

The video also recognises the importance of physical safety through a conversation with Wong Thai Jin, Assistant Manager at the Office of Safety, Health and Environment. “NUS provides a strong and reliable safety net for staff and student events, whether held locally or overseas. Part of my role is to guide event organisers through proper and thorough planning for execution, while identifying possible risks, and putting in place appropriate response control measures,” shared Thai Jin. “It is important to help both event organisers and participants to be mentally prepared, and ready to face any unexpected challenges during execution.” She added that physical wellbeing is also critical for our mental and emotional health.

The final phase of the campaign in June 2021 will focus on creating awareness through understanding mental health. A campaign video will be launched to train reporting managers in clarifying common misconceptions on mental health, and ways to check in on staff mental wellbeing. In addition, a mental health seminar featuring NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua and other mental health experts will be held on 16 June. More details at #AreuOK

Through these various initiatives and activities, the #AreuOK campaign aims to galvanise a mindset shift, instil positive work culture, and create an inclusive and empathetic University environment. 


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