As a champion of healthy living in Singapore, the HPB aspires to empower the public to take ownership of their own fitness and wellbeing. In collaboration with schools, workplaces and the community, the HPB implements a variety of health promotion and disease prevention programmes that equip individuals with knowledge and skills to live healthily.
Propelling the HPB forward in its mission are dedicated advocates of healthy living. Elena Yap and Huang Xuewen, recipients of HPB scholarships, give us an insight into what drives them to make a difference to the nation’s health.
A Passion for Health and Wellness
Elena applied for a HPB Scholarship as she believes that it is critical for people to actively take care of their health. She says, “It is not uncommon to hear family, friends and neighbours lamenting about the lack of emphasis placed on their health when they fall sick. By incorporating various simple activities in our everyday life, and encouraging those around us to do so, we can enjoy a higher quality of life.”
For Xuewen, he identifies with the organisation’s goal of promoting positive health behaviours. A psychology major in university, Xuewen has a keen interest in human behaviours and mental processes. He was also drawn by the meaningful and impactful work he could carry out. “A doctor can make a difference in individuals’ lives,” he elaborates. “However, working in public health has a much larger impact on the population, where a well-executed programme can translate into the prevention of chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high-blood pressure.”
HPB Overseas Undergraduate Scholar, Manager
Workplace Health Planning, Workplace Health & Outreach Division
Dynamic Scope and Diverse Opportunities
Both Elena and Xuewen got their first taste of working at HPB as interns. This allows them to have a head-start as compared to their cohort peers. As scholarship recipients, they are also provided with opportunities to take on roles in key committees such as the Healthy Workforce Committee as well as job rotation when they start work. Prior to her current appointment, Elena was in the Regional Health and Community Outreach Division.
She is presently a Manager in the Workplace Health Planning team under the Workplace Health & Outreach Division. Her team oversees health promotion outreach efforts to companies and her diverse job scope includes driving, monitoring and reviewing the division’s strategies and programmes.
In addition, she also collaborates with multiple stakeholders across public and private agencies, academia and unions to drive the HPB’s overall strategy in workplace health and safety. She also has opportunities to influence workplace health at the policy level, as well as establishing thought leadership in workplace health, both locally and internationally.
“Since taking up my current appointment, I learnt to adopt a macro-perspective and it is interesting to see how different factors come into play to impact workers’ safety and health,” she says. “Through these experiences, I have realised how health can be weaved into many parts of our lives, to incorporate into our social activities, work and daily routine.”
In contrast, Xuewen graduated earlier this year and joined the Mental Health Education team under the HPB’s Preventive Health Programmes Division. He develops and implements mental health programmes that equip young children and teenagers with the knowledge and skills to manage stress and emotions.
His responsibilities also involve collaborating with multiple stakeholders on joint projects. For instance, he works with the Ministry of Education to enhance school counsellors’ skills knowledge to build students’ mental wellbeing, which he finds rewarding and purposeful.
HPB Local Mid-term Scholar, Assistant Manager
Mental Health Education, Preventive Health
A Meaningful Career
Monitoring the mental health programmes are part and parcel of Xuewen’s work. In fact, this is his favourite aspect. He stresses, “The observation sessions serve an additional purpose, which is to remind me that I am ultimately serving the children in schools. When I watch the programme being delivered to the students, it is a pleasant reminder that the true purpose behind my job is to empower students with skills to live a healthy life. The purposefulness of my work drives my passion for the job.”
The challenging and multi-faceted nature of the healthcare sector fascinates Elena. She sees and experiences the large amount of effort and work to promote better health in Singaporeans. From conceptualisation, to development and eventual roll out a programme, much behind-the-scene work is required with colleagues from different departments and partners from various agencies.
Yet, her passion for health advocacy fuels and drives her to overcome challenges. She is heartened that her work is making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. She says, “As we run programmes on the ground, participants would come up to us to let us know their sincere feedback, and this motivates me to do more. Through testimonials and survey results, I also see how our programmes make a positive impact in people’s lives.”
Words of Wisdom
When asked to advise potential scholarship applicants, Elena says that a scholarship is like a career. She explains, “When choosing the scholarship to apply for, it’s important to consider if the industry is where you want to work in.”
As for Xuewen, he shares Elena’s belief that a HPB scholar must have the passion for health promotion. He says, “When applying for a scholarship, treat it like you are applying for a job. Remember to do some research about the organisation that you are considering. It is important to find an organisation with values that you appreciate, with a mission that you want to embark on, and a vision you want to realise together.”