The DTI and DOLE Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 was updated on August 14, 2020 in the Philippines. The update raises attention towards the mental health of employees and new requirements for companies to adhere to in ensuring their mental well-being. This requires companies to be in alliance with a psycho-social organization for employees to be referred to for daily well-being or for crisis intervention.
This Philippine Mental Health Law are in line with the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a negative impact on the working lives of many. As stated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.".
While displaying and presenting helplines for crisis intervention are helpful tools of support during this period, they provide an impersonal and passive role for ensuring mental wellness of employees. Healthy habits for mental wellness are cultivated and trained like a muscle and require consistent and active treatments from mental health experts and from the community in the work environment. As such, enlisting the help of a psycho-social organization allows for employees to have access to quick and personal connections to address pressing mental health needs.
Being allied with a psycho-social organization would mostly involve having access to mental health experts such as counselors and therapist. Other supplements include workshops and webinars that are targeted at helping employees adjust to changing phases of the pandemic. Examples include moving to a work from home lifestyle or even coming back to an open office with new pandemic restrictions. These are largely stressful changes in lifestyles that needs addressing by mental health experts. Working from home (WFH) includes the inability to draw boundaries between work and rest as the environment remains largely the same. Learning healthy ways to draw the line between home and work life in a WFH environment is becoming a necessary strategy to ensure mental wellness.
On counseling, employees are allowed anonymous access to a mental health expert that can provide a professional relationship to address work and personal stresses without judgement. As the stigma of mental issues continue to be pervasive in society, a professional relationship with a counselor or therapist provide an environment to which employees can address their issues without shame or worry of their reputation being tarnished. One's public identity is an important aspect that many would want to keep secure when addressing their stresses. As such, one should ally with a psycho-social organization that ensures privacy and confidentiality for its clients so that employees are more open to reaching out to mental health experts.
With these changes to the the DTI and DOLE Supplemental Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19, it has become an important and pivotal movement for mental health to be addressed in the workplace. What was largely neglected prior has become a mandatory call to action for managers and leaders of the workplace to tackle a global pandemic. It is an exciting time to see the leaders who answer this call and are ready to ensure the well-being of its employees and peers.