Feeling psychologically unsafe at work

(Pardon my subpar English… and this post is more like a ranting post about my workplace. Skip if you’re not interested :pray:t3:)

I am working in the public service sector for almost 2 years.

My direct boss is a well-liked person to the senior management as he always portrays himself very well in front of them. However, whenever he speaks to my team, he is very discriminating and remarks on inappropriate topics.

For example, on one occasion where I shared with him that I am suffering form generalised anxiety disorder, and he seem empathetic, he listened to my stories and it felt like he understood what I am going through. However, he likes to speak about himself every time I mention something bad about me. At other times, where my team gather for meetings, he would comment things like “mental health is fake”, “depression is fake”, “people with mental health conditions cannot contribute to the society”.

He also verbally abuse interns openly. Once we were having a class with him with interns from ITE and NUS attending. He made this comment: “ITE students do not have the ability to process information well. That’s the difference between ITE and NUS students”. He also added that “that is why most ITE and poly students cannot go to university”.

It doesn’t stop at just abusing interns. I have heard from my other colleagues that he frequently shouts at contractors, calling them stupid and hurling vulgarities at them.

Other issues include:

  • targeting people during meetings
  • twisting his words/saying different things to different people
  • sharing other’s private information
  • no respect for personal time, expects you to work OT and don’t claim time off
  • denying employee benefits
  • favouritsm
  • ignore messages and emails, no replies to my leave application. Asked him verbally and he said he will only reply if there is a problem. Silence means consent…
  • gaslighting
  • makes you feel guilty when taking MC

I have been trying to make a complaint about his actions to my HR, however, I have been advised by many of my colleagues not to do so. They warned me that in the past, when people does that, he made sure to make that person’s life more difficult. I have also tried to seek help by writing to the AWARE (association of women for action and research), however, they suggested that I gather more evidence and more than 2 persons before I go to the HR as it would seem more substantial. I do not want to affect my other colleagues or interns and ask them to go to HR with me as I am afraid it would affect their future.

Working here have been tough and sometimes intolerable. I have had suicidal thoughts wanting to end my life as working here is really tough and I wanted to end it quick. I am bonded the the company for another 2 years so I cannot afford to get targetted and bullied by my boss. If I am really targetted, I worry that my mental health will decline again. I am currently taking Zoloft 100mg every day and just starting to feel better.

Thank you so much for reading until the end :pray:t3: hope you’ll have a great day ahead :slight_smile:


Need some help…

I’ve been wanting to expose my bosses to HR and the senior management about their questionable behaviours at work…

My direct boss discriminates people (staff, interns, contractors), calling them stupid, saying things like “ITE students don’t have the ability to process information. That’s the difference between ITE and NUS students…that’s why people from ITE and poly cannot get into university”.

My colleagues warned me to not expose my boss to HR or senior management as there will be repercussions to my career. I am currently bonded to the company for another 2 years, and it would be better if I keep quiet than to voice things out.

Another reason why I cannot expose him is that he is well-liked by many people who is not from the team as he portrays himself as a nice and understanding person. He speaks very very well and can twist his words to make him sound very convincing.

I have tried to contact AWARE.sg, and their advice was to gather more people to make the complaint as going alone wouldn’t make the case strong enough for an investigation.

There are also acts of animal abuse/cruelty/neglect? He demanded for all 8 cats to not be fed as he wants them to catch rats and squirrels. There was an incident whereby one cat got run over by a buggy, and he refused to bring her to the vet to get it checked. The cat, although survived, is limping and is still peeing blood. There is no animal welfare in this place…and many of my colleagues and myself are afraid to go against him because of the unforeseen circumstances.

He’s also against mental health. When I told him I have generalised anxiety disorder, he was empathetic and listened to my troubles. However, during meetings, he says things like “mental health conditions are fake”, “people with mental health conditions don’t contribute to the society”, “doctors diagnose you with a condition because they just want to earn money”.

It’s very painful and uncomfortable to work in this environment, and I can’t help to feel depressed thinking that I am stuck here for another 2 years. I’m not sure if I’m able to do anything…

Would appreciate any advice :pray:t3:


Woah this is a very difficult and tricky situation to be in, especially if you still have a bond with the company.

Firstly, your life is valuable. If you have thoughts about ending it, please seek help immediately by calling SOS at 1767.

On his verbal abuse, I think it’s hard to go up against him directly especially if he is good at managing up. Also based on what I’m reading, it seems like a lot of the unnecessary comments are directed to your interns and your contractors. Maybe can check with them on how they feel / encourage them to make a report if they feel like they have been bullied at the workplace. It might be better if it comes directly from them instead of you (as a bystander).

But honestly I don’t think any of this will change, especially if he has been working for a long time and has formed a certain style of working. The best way to do this maybe, is to ask for a transfer citing better exposure or growth opportunities for you. If your company is big enough, maybe got chance.

Are any of your colleagues in the same situation as you where they are also bonded for a few years?

Hi @beep

Thank you for sharing so authentically about what’s been happening, I hear you and I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you’re facing in your workplace. It sounds very distressing to experience discrimination, verbal abuse, and a lack of support from your boss. Your feelings of frustration and hopelessness are completely valid given the circumstances.

I just want to say that it’s commendable that you reached out for help and support. I can understandable that you feel hesitant to report your boss’s behavior, especially considering the potential repercussions you’ve seen others face. However, your mental health and safety should always come first.

I want to encourage you with these suggestions:

  1. Please focus on your mental health :slight_smile: Your well-being should always come first! It’s important to set boundaries to protect yourself from further harm. This might include setting limits on how much overtime you’re willing to work, seeking support from mental health professionals, and engaging in self-care activities that help you cope with stress.
  1. Document everything :slight_smile: Perhaps you can keep detailed records of any instances of discrimination, verbal abuse, or mistreatment you experience or witness. This documentation can serve as evidence if you decide to report the behavior to HR or seek support from external organizations. Include dates, times, and descriptions of what occurred, as well as any witnesses who can corroborate your account.

  2. Explore your options for support :slight_smile: Consider reaching out to your HR, even if you’re concerned about potential retaliation. HR departments have a responsibility to address workplace misconduct and ensure a safe working environment for all employees.

Please remember that your mental health matters, and if you ever feel overwhelmed or find yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional for support.

I would also like you to remember that these options are available for you, should you want to reach out to a mental health professional:

I encourage you to keep advocating for yourself and exploring avenues for change in your workplace. You deserve to work in an environment that respects and values you :slight_smile: Please also let us know how you’re doing so far, we’re here to support you.

Hear from you soon!


Hi Jaws, thanks so much for the reply.

I understand from my colleagues that some of the contractors have filed a report to the management but their complaints were ignored and the bullying got worse. The contractors even went to the MP a few times, and wrote to the organisation’s CEO, but then again, it came back as the contractor being at fault that’s why my bosses treated them that way…

I know there are a few of us (newer staffs) who are struggling a lot in this workplace too. We all don’t really know what to do, and don’t understand how some of them can survive here for so long (some are here for 10 years).

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Hi cottonsoul,

Thank you so much for the reply. I have been collating evidences in the form of voice recordings and account of incidents. I hope these can be used as evidence whenever I feel I’m ready to voice things out. But I doubt it will be useful… I have heard of one incident whereby the boss made a racist remark towards an intern so she went to inform HR about it. There was almost nothing done to my boss about it (probably some verbal warning?) and he gets to continue his inappropriate behaviour as usual.

I have the urge to voice things out so many times but held back because of the potential repercussions… I guess for now, I will just try my best to survive this last 2 years in this horrible place…


Hi @anonymous163

Thanks for letting us know how you’re doing. I hear you, it is indeed tough to witness inappropriate behavior at work and feel powerless to address it. While documenting incidents is smart, past experiences of little action may fuel doubts about its effectiveness. I can also understand that you feel fearful of repercussions, especially seeing others face challenges for speaking out. I encourage you to focus on self-care and support outside of work :slight_smile: Surviving in a toxic environment is tough, but remember you’re not alone! Take things one day at a time, we are here with you.

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Guess this goes to show how good he is at managing up.

But as with anything in life, you will learn something from every experience. In this case, your boss is probably a good example of who NOT to be in future.

Actually there are many people who have worked in the public sector for a long time. And these are people who probably know how to manage their interactions, know what to see and what not to see. Some say act blur live longer and I think that’s true for many people.

For the newer generation, I think we’re more used to being vocal and voicing out our concerns. We probably have a harder time reconciling certain behaviors with our moral values.

Any chance you could ask for a transfer to another department or team where you don’t have to deal with so much of this?