23 August 2017

8 in 10 Maybank staff have significantly higher empathy and understanding of mental health patients after two-year community collaboration

23 August 2017


Survey findings also show that 9 out of 10 staff are more engaged in corporate volunteerism when they get to plan their own projects

In a Volunteer Survey conducted among Maybank staff after its annual Corporate Responsibility (CR) Day on 19 August, 84% of staff volunteers felt that the bank's two-year collaboration with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) has significantly increased their empathy and understanding of persons with mental illness.

Three-quarters of the employees also felt their understanding of mental health issues has significantly increased, which one in 10 people in Singapore suffer from, according to the Singapore Mental Health Study conducted in 2010. IMH is one of the five charity organisations which Maybank has partnered for its CR Day for the past two years.

"Our company's collaboration with IMH is the first time I have visited the hospital and interacted with the patients. My team mates and I are glad that the patients have benefitted from our volunteer efforts, such as the wall murals we have painted, the new hydroponics garden sponsored by the bank and the various engagement activities. We are also amazed to find out more about the ways in which IMH has equipped their patients with useful skills such as handicraft and gardening, which improves their self-esteem," said one of planning managers, Mr David Tan, Maybank IT Manager.

Empowerment leads to higher staff engagement for volunteer projects

Starting from 2016, Maybank took a fresh approach and decided to empower staff to plan their own volunteering projects for Global CR Day, focusing on different beneficiary groups - lonely seniors, vulnerable families, people with intellectual disabilities and mental health patients. Nearly 90% of staff indicated that they felt more engaged in corporate volunteerism after having the opportunity to plan their own CR initiatives. For example, Ms Jade Leow, Cluster Head, Community Financial Services, continued with her befriending efforts after being involved in the planning of befriending and home improvement activities for Lions Befrienders' seniors last year.

"The bank's CR Day provided the chance for me to see how I can connect with some of these seniors. Many of them stay alone and what they need most is a listening ear. For example, I still regularly call one of the seniors whom I met last year, to check on how he is, and I would occasionally take him out for a meal. The most important takeaway for me personally is that we can all find pockets of time to help others in ways that we find meaningful," said Ms Leow.

This year, Maybank staff volunteers continued with key projects which have proved to be the most impactful for beneficiaries, based on feedback from the charity organisations on last year's CR activities. These include home improvement projects for vulnerable families under Montfort Care and lonely seniors under Lions Befrienders, as well as painting of colourful wall murals at IMH, MINDSville@Napiri and MINDS Fernvale Gardens School.

In total, staff volunteers painted a total of 18 wall murals in IMH, which have brightened up the living environment of the patients and are a popular conversation topic among patients, staff and visitors. A S$10,000 sponsorship from Maybank also enabled IMH to set up its first hydroponics garden. Apart from providing an additional activity for patients to engage in ‘garden therapy', the new Kristal Hydroponics Garden allows patients to grow vegetables for their own consumption and sale to IMH staff.

In addition to improving the physical living conditions for the different vulnerable groups, Maybank employees also came up with fresh ideas for more engagement. These include bringing Lions Befrienders' seniors supermarket shopping and out for a meal, hosting beneficiaries from WeCare@MarineParade and Montfort Care for a Singapore River cruise, and arranging an outing to Gardens by the Bay for IMH patients.

According to the Quality of Life Study done by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) last year, such social inclusion and participation has the greatest impact on improving the quality of life for vulnerable groups and seniors.

"We wish to thank Maybank and all its staff volunteers for a fun, meaningful and fulfilling day. From the colourful wall murals in the wards painted by Maybank staff, to the exciting games for our patients, and the harvesting and sale of fresh vegetables from the hydroponics garden, all these brought much joy to our patients and made the day extraordinary for them. Volunteers are very important for our long stay patients as most of them have lost touch with family or friends. So our patients enjoy spending time with volunteers, engaging in various activities. We look forward to deepening our partnership with Maybank to further enhance our patients' well-being," said Mdm Catherine Chua, Volunteer Programme Manager, IMH.