Struggling with mental health in the pandemic

Struggling with mental health in the pandemic

9 in 10 Singaporeans still struggling with their mental health one year into the pandemic, men and younger adults most worried.

AIA Singapore today announced findings from a new study on the state of Singaporeans' health at the one-year mark since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. It revealed that fears over income loss and job instability caused 91% of respondents to report declines in their mental health. Around 60% of respondents are also deeply concerned about the added burden of other critical illness diagnosis such as cancer.

Ms Wong Sze Keed, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Singapore, says, "While our nation is heading for a post-pandemic recovery, mentally, we are still trying to navigate our way out of COVID-19 uncertainities. It is not enough to only take care of our physical health. This conviction drives our holistic approach to protect the many aspects of our customers' wellbeing – such as financial, physical, and mental health – to enable everyone to truly lead healthier, longer, better lives."

In the latest AIA Health Matters Survey 2021, the study polled over 300 Singaporeans aged 30 to 55 across a spectrum of working adults that is representative of the the resident population.

Path to pandemic recovery still causing anxiety, Singaporeans bogged down by fear of tackling both mental health challenges and critical illness.

Not only are Singaporeans concerned about their own health, but they are also feeling anxious about their family's and loved ones' overall wellbeing. This further adds to the stress they have been dealing with in the past year.

The past year saw an increase in diagnosis concerns for critical illnesses (+10% compared to 2016), with cancer being the most pressing concern (73% are worried). There is also a substantial increase in stroke concerns, from 60% in 2016 to 68% in 2021. Amongst mental health conditions, Anxiety and Major Depressive Disorders were revealed to be the most prevalent.

The study also shines a light on how different segments of the working population are coping with mental health challenges and critical illness worries:

Majority of the male respondents who are breadwinners stated that they are more likely to report when they are facing mental health and critical illness conditions compared to women.

Millennials (aged 30-39) reported higher stress coping with daily stressors at work as compared to pre-retirees (aged 40 and above).

Millennials aged 30 to 39 (81%) are especially worried about cancer compared to older adults.

Insights on Singaporeans' ownership of critical illness plans revealed another issue: mental health stigma still exists in society, which may stand in the way of ensuring adequate protection. Because of this stigma, while insurance plans with mental health coverage are available in the market, only 18% reported that their critical illness plans or riders include mental health coverage. Amongst the different demographic groups surveyed, men and millennials are more willing to take up more extensive insurance plans such as those that include mental health coverage.

As a leading life insurer, AIA Singapore is committed to doing more to provide comprehensive support for customers, staff, and the wider workforce, including taking care of their mental health. Since taking the lead in launching the first critical illness plan with mental health coverage in Singapore in 2019 with the launch of AIA Beyond Critical Care (AIA BCC) – the first and only critical illness plan in Singapore to provide coverage for five prominent mental illnesses: Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome (up to age 21). AIA BCC also covers health screening and provides a refund of total annual premium (less claims paid) at the end of the policy term.

Based on the AIA Health Matters Survey 2021, 95% of respondents feel that being adequately covered for early to advanced stage critical illness is important. Addressing these needs, AIA Singapore has in place an enhanced proposition where customers can have peace of mind knowing that they have a choice to be protected holistically from early to advanced critical illness, inclusive of mental illnesses.

AIA Singapore has also been committed to:

Investing in new stress and wellness management training for more than 350 people managers in AIA Singapore. These training sessions will teach staff to identify common mental health issues and how to appropriately support their staff in good times and bad, thus creating more positive working environments for employees to thrive.

Offering a complimentary Resilience Mindset programme for all AIA staff and corporate customers who make up about 1.2 million (or 1 in 3) members of the Singapore workforce. This complimentary access to resilience training for mental health will better equip working adults to cope with the evolving challenges posed by COVID-19 by practising positive habits daily.

Bespoke Mobile Plans

Bespoke Mobile Plans

Following the recent announcement of M1 Limited's rebranding to drive transformation, the company is delivering on its goal to rejuvenate Singapore's telecommunications landscape. Featuring a selection of made-to-measure Bespoke plans, these directly address customer demand for personalisation and flexibility. With this fresh, customer-first approach, M1 stands true to its name of being Singapore's first digital network operator.

Made-to-Measure Mobile Plans

M1's new Bespoke mobile plans aim to meet customers' desire for greater personalisation. Whether looking for a mobile device or a suitable plan, these three made-to-measure offerings – Bespoke Flexi, Bespoke SIM-only, and Bespoke Contract – can be customised to fit individual needs.

Bespoke Flexi provides customers with greater flexibility in every respect, as they can dictate their upfront device payment and choose to settle their balance between 12 and 36 months. With no strings attached, users now have the freedom to upgrade or downgrade their plan whenever they want. Also, customers can change their monthly data and talk time either in-store or using the My M1+ app without fear of encountering any early termination or admin fees.

M1's Bespoke SIM-only mobile plan offers customers an adaptable, contract-free experience. With the ability to change plans from month-to-month, users can take full advantage of M1's latest products. Plus, customers using the M1+ app now have a convenient slider to balance their data, talk time and price on the fly.

Finally, Bespoke Contract's updated data bundles provide customers with even more value as the new base plan includes 20GB. Alongside three fresh add-ons, customers can build a plan suited to their budget and needs.

Be Free with M1

M1 has launched the first stories from the 'Be' campaign in conjunction with their re-energised mobile plans. Featuring seven Singaporeans with an unmistakable drive to tread their own path, this campaign reflects the spirit of individuality that M1 wants to celebrate. Across Singapore's BYOBottle movement founder, a guitar-shredding grandma and one of the world's top doll collectors, in collaboration with M1, these personal tales highlight the importance of freedom and having the confidence to simply be who you are.

Advancing Singapore's Digital Landscape

Supported by a tech-focused transformation both in-store and via its mobile app, M1's reinvigorated nature is already evolving the digital landscape for its customers, changing how Singaporeans engage with telecommunications.

About M1

M1, a subsidiary of Keppel Corporation, is Singapore's first digital network operator, providing a suite of communications services, including mobile, fixed line and fibre offerings, to over two million customers. Since the launch of its commercial services in 1997, M1 has achieved many firsts – becoming one of the first operators to be awarded one of Singapore's two nationwide 5G standalone network license, first operator to offer nationwide 4G service, as well as ultra high-speed fixed broadband, fixed voice and other services on the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network.

The future of sustainable energy in Singapore

The future of sustainable energy in Singapore

Singapore is home to an exciting sustainable energy industry, and the city’s innovative research and development (R&D) in this sector aims to tackle today’s global issues head on. Leading global research into renewable energy, Singapore is also a great place for testing out new ideas, with some of the world’s most exciting green architecture and eco-friendly initiatives, like buses with green roofs, receiving support from the government in their policies. Singapore’s government aims to transform the country into a Smart Nation, powered by the latest digital technology, and an important aspect of this is the sustainability of new innovations. The clean energy future of Singapore is likely one that rests upon the continued digitalisation of Singaporean society.

Research and Development (R&D)

Singapore aims to be a global leader in renewable energy R&D, and in the past few years has rolled out an exciting lineup of new clean innovations, something that’s set to continue. In 2018, they won the Renewable Energy category at the ASEAN Energy Awards with their floating solar power testbed in Tengeh Reservoir - making double use of this piece of infrastructure, both for supplying water and generating energy. The equatorial location of Singapore makes solar power an ideal path of growth, and the city has pledged to raise its solar capacity significantly in the coming years.

Infrastructure investment

Another way Singapore is upgrading its infrastructure is the number of electric vehicles able to operate on its transport network. It aims to move its entire bus fleet into electric or hybrid vehicles by 2040, and currently is well on its way to this goal. In order to support personal use of electric vehicles, a national charging network is currently being laid out, with 2,000 charging points connecting to this all over the island. As well as privately owned electric cars, BlueSG is a joint initiative between a private sector company, Bollore Group, and Singapore’s government, and anyone can use this service to rent electric cars for easy transport. The electric charging network not only supports electric vehicles, but also building owners and clean energy use at home. When homes switch to smart metre use and thermostats, they are able to more efficiently use energy, and the network of battery and grid energy can be best calibrated to save energy in the long term.

Private sector support

Apple has recently changed its operations to be powered solely by clean energy, as are many multinational companies, and Singapore’s goal to be a global business hub motivates the country to take the renewable energy needs of the global private sector into account. In Singapore, the companies Sunseap and Sembcorp are taking matters into their hands too, and with the support of the government are turning several of their buildings into power generators, by fitting their properties with solar panels. So far, the companies have identified over 210 different sites to roll out this new initiative.

Reducing reliance on imported fuels

While Singapore has a fairly clean and efficient power infrastructure, a significant challenge has continued to be its reliance on imported fuels. Due to its small size, until now 95% of power generated is sourced from imported natural gas, and this issue is further exacerbated by the small size of its energy system, which means its heavily affected by changes in supply and demand. Moving to a digital energy infrastructure manages the latter issue, while switching over to local renewable energy sources, such as solar power, means that the country is less reliant on imports, creating a win-win situation where both economic fluctuations are levelled out and environmentally friendly power sources are accommodated.

The years ahead are bound to see a slew of exciting renewable energy projects come to fruition across Singapore. From new research into solar energy and how it can be integrated, often seamlessly, into the cities infrastructure and architecture, to a focus on sustainable transport and catering for its citizens home energy needs in the best way possible, Singapore has proven itself to be one of the most exciting hubs for clean energy innovation, and this trend is set to continue.

Smart tech industry continues to grow in Singapore

Smart tech industry continues to grow in Singapore

Singapore’s goal of becoming a Smart Nation has made it one of the most exciting examples of innovative urban architecture and infrastructure. From island-wide 5G to artificial intelligence (AI) managed retail stores, a huge number of initiatives have focused on achieving progress using new technologies. As well as this, a growing amount of research and development (R&D) into digitalisation has meant new ideas are created regularly, which combined with the government and private sector’s focus on smart technology, have meant the island has become a regional powerhouse for digital innovation.

In 2019, the government in Singapore pledged to spend 1% of annual GDP on smart tech research and development, as part of its Research, Innovation and Enterprise plan (RIE 2020.) One aspect of this that is underway is their National Digital Identity project (NDI), which aims to store a centralised biometric information system of Singapore citizens, including fingerprint and iris scans and facial and voice records. Another innovation is its unified QR code payment systems, which connects with multiple payment schemes, from GrabPay to NETS, creating a national e-payment system which can be used in hawker centres, canteens and coffee shops all over the city.

As part of the RIE 2020 plan, the government is also rolling out an autonomous vehicle infrastructure system, paving the way for self-driving cars to form part of the country’s transport network. The first self-driving car was approved for road testing in 2015, and since then, private companies have collaborated with the government, with the startup nuTonomy testing on Singapore’s roads in 2016. More recently, an autonomous shuttle bus has been moving students at Nanyang Technological University over a 500 metre route - and has been successfully moving up to 300 people every day. Huge leaps have been made in this AI technology in the last five years, and this is set to continue into the future.

As well as the country’s famous fintech ecosystem, the government is aiming to grow the startup economy of Singapore. In particular, it aims to create an artificial intelligence (AI) hub on the island, by creating a data science consortium and by investing a large amount into an AI research and development program. As part of this, they have also created national AI training schemes, which allow 12,000 Singaporeans to grow new and highly sought after tech skills over the next three years. Not only will this increase global private sector interest into the country, but it will also help to move Singapore along to its Smart Nation goals, by innovating new smart technologies which can be rolled out island-wide.

The increase in e-commerce demand has caused brick-and-mortar stores to suffer in Singapore over the past few years. However, the use of AI is a great way to counteract this and boost the city’s retail economy. While e-commerce stores are able to significantly track customers, spending habits and to analyse shopping trends, if the ability to do this is made possible in physical shops, it will give more power back into the hands of traditional-style shopkeepers.

The use of inbuilt smart tech in stores can provide accurate and real-time information about customers, enabling managers to track conversion rates, campaign effectiveness and staff efficiency. AI computer vision technology can track footfall and therefore capture customer demographics in order to optimise marketing campaigns, shop inventory and preferences. The benefits of online retail are brought into an offline space.

Over the past ten years, the smart tech industry in Singapore has come along in huge leaps and bounds. In addition to this, the focus on new AI innovations, with a huge commitment to funding new developments, means there’s no doubt the industry will continue to grow in the years to come. Singapore has been highly effective in problem-solving using the capabilities of this growing technology, and in the near future we may see offline, brick-and-mortar retail stores giving e-commerce shops a run for their money, autonomous vehicles on the city’s streets and a growing AI industry that could make Singapore a global leader in tech innovation.