The pandemic situation in the Philippines and other countries in the region has intensified over the past several months. It felt like everyone in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces had gone back to square one. The government announced that it would be re-implementing quarantine lockdown around late July 2021 due to surges of virus contagion. Most of the population has been mentally and emotionally strained by the recent events. So what is the importance of mental health during the prolonged pandemic especially for the workforce? How can the companies and government help the labor group stay afloat physically and mentally?
Benefits and Importance of Mental Health Program in the Workplace
- Increased productivity: In cost-benefit research conducted by the World Health Organization, for every 1 USD spent treating an employee’s mental disorder, there is a return of 4 USD in productivity.
- Improve company culture: In some cases, the cause of psychological well-being issues stems from harassment and bullying at work. Ideally, the program or policy provides the means to identify and remedy such acts in accordance with Republic Act No. 10627, or more commonly referred to as the “Anti-Bullying Act of 2013.” Doing so would lessen the bullies and harassment in the workplace and promote a better company atmosphere.
- Reduce absenteeism or tardiness: The correlation between mental state and physical well-being is undeniable. Depression or anxiety could easily translate to physical ailments. As a result, an employee will inform their supervisor that they won’t be coming in for their shift, or will be arriving late. This becomes an added effort to those who keeps track time manually but could be resolved with a reliable biometric time & attendance device.
How To Cope-Up With the Pandemic
It is very difficult to cope with the pandemic. With prolonged lockdowns and limitations of physical contact, it’s no wonder that everyone feels tired. Learning to cope with the pandemic while having good mental health can be very beneficial. Here are some ways for keeping employees afloat:
As an employer, it is vital to know the employees’ state of mental health, employers should see the value of employees’ well-being to help the business scale up. Employers’ should utilize online tools to monitor employee engagement and happiness. When asked, many employees would say that their company does not have a mental health policy or that they are unaware that one exists. Furthermore, promoting and supporting psychological health awareness is a need for the well-being of the employees, which in turn would hugely benefit the company.
Take a break.
One should know to take a break from listening, watching, reading news, and yes, including Social Media. This can help you clear the mind and veer thoughts away from the current situation in the country which can elevate the stress level.
Engage in healthy activities
People are advised to stay at home during pandemic, but that doesn’t mean to stop engaging in physical and healthy activities. This activities are beneficial for mental and physical health. Exercise routines, meditation, and other wellness activities are proven to maintain mental and physical well-being during these unprecedented times.
Eat healthy foods:
Avoid instant food and prioritize healthier diet choices. There are a variety of options to choose from. Learn how to cook healthier and more balanced meals, since the start of the pandemic. A lot of online tutorials have sprung up, therefore, explore and engage yourself.
Have time to unwind.
Unwinding, a simple and effective way to refresh and relax from all the stress, restless nights, and workloads. Always remember to take days off and spend time alone or with loved ones. Unwinding doesn’t necessarily mean that one should be outdoors. Especially with lockdowns in place, it’ll be better off at home where one can engage with new hobbies, maybe binge-watch a Netflix series, cook favorite meals, have a date night with special someone, have fun and enjoy virtual activities with friends.
Employers need to implement mental health programs
The employers’ ability to immediately recognize and address mental health problems is critical at this point. An effective program could help employers and employees identify signs and symptoms of mental well-being issues, and by doing so they could immediately take action. In a study conducted by Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services, the following are the top five mental health issues in the workplace:
- Job burnout (76%)
- Irritability (71%)
- Lack of motivation (70%)
- Chronic physical c complaints (49%)
- Anxiety (41%)
Last February 11, 2020, DOLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III signed the DO 208-20, and it is a good starting point for companies who want their employees and business to succeed. Thanks to DOLE, companies are getting a nudge in the right direction on getting started with implementing mental health policies in their own workplaces. The recently released Department Order No. 208 Series of 2020 (DO 208-20), provides a much-needed guideline on how to start mental health workplace policies and programs. Ever since the Mental Health Act was signed by DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on the 22nd of January, 2019, barely tapped the early adopters.
As Richard Branson (Owner, Virgin Galactic) quote goes, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that. Healthy, engaged employees are your top competitive advantage.”