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How to Deal when the Going Gets Tough

Challenges and difficulties are part and parcel of life and work, and many, if not all of us have our own coping mechanisms when the going gets tough. Some of us would gather our closest buddies for a chat over coffee, while others may approach our seniors for advice. Apart from these usual avenues, do you know that as SingHealth Residents, we have access to professional counselors for those moments when we feel that no one else would be able to help?

This month, we spoke to a counselor from Trauma Recovery and Corporate Solutions (TRaCS) to find out what services they provide and how our Residents can benefit from them.
What is TRaCS?
TRaCS stands for Trauma Recovery and Corporate Solutions. We are located at Changi General Hospital and are dedicated to building individual and organizational resilience by improving workplace mental health. One of the services that we provide is the Employee Counseling Service (ECS), which supports SingHealth Residents if they require additional emotional support when faced with personal or work-related challenges.

How long has ECS been available?
ECS has been providing professional counseling services to corporate organizations since 2004. Our role is to provide their staff with an additional resource to manage their life challenges or any traumatic incidents experienced. We understand that these challenges can be stressful and may have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to work, interact or care for themselves if they are not addressed and managed well.
Who manages TRaCS hotline? Will the same person attend to me each time?  
The ECS hotline is manned by TRaCS counselors, who are trained mental health professionals with post-graduate qualifications. TRaCS counselors are also trained to provide Mental Health First Aid, as well as Critical Incident Stress Management.

TRaCS counsellors are scheduled to man the hotline on a monthly basis, but should the caller require any follow-ups, it would usually be conducted by the same counselor.
How do I contact TRaCS?
SingHealth Residents can contact TRaCS via the ECS hotline number indicated on the Residency intranet page, from Mondays to Fridays 9am to 5pm. If the call is unanswered or if the call is made after 5pm on weekdays, weekends or public holidays, the TRaCS Counselors will return your call by the next working day.
I am too busy to call, can I speak to someone via email or SMS?
Residents may contact us via SMS to request for a face-to-face counseling session. We will reply and arrange for an appointment after obtaining the relevant information required. However, if the Resident requires immediate support, we would encourage the Resident to call up to speak to a TRaCS counselor instead.

What type of assistance can a TRaCS counselor offer? Can  I speak to my peers/ seniors/ program directors instead? 
While it is important to feel supported at work by your colleagues, Residents may benefit from speaking to a trained counsellor outside of their organization to share their thoughts and emotions in a therapeutic environment. Counseling may also help Residents to address their psychological and emotional needs by guiding them to find clarity and direction, without worry of judgement or criticism. 
What are some of the more common problems and issues that Residents seek help for? How can TRaCS help in these situations?
Residents often seek counseling services for work-related issues or personal/family issues, which may affect their ability to function at work. At times, we receive referrals from seniors who are concerned about their juniors who had encountered a crisis situation at work.

When we face challenges, the problem consumes our ability to think or behave as we normally do. Speaking to a mental health counselor allows the Resident time and space to identify the specific distressing issues, reflect on their current coping strategies and to expand the resources they can tap on to cope better.
I’m afraid I will be judged and appear like I am not coping well. Will my calls be kept confidential? Can I remain anonymous?
All ECS calls are kept confidential. Residents can remain anonymous during the phone conversation, but to better understand their unique challenges, we may require relevant demographic information (ie. age, length of service, marital status etc) to better appreciate the Resident’s perspective, and to offer appropriate interventions specific to the Resident’s needs.
If I have non-Resident colleagues who may need counseling, can they call TRACS as well?
ECS is only offered to organizations that engage our services directly. However, non-Resident colleagues may utilize our counselling services with a referral from the polyclinic or a General Practitioner. However, unlike the Singhealth Residents, non-Residents would be subject to prevailing hospital charges.