How important is mental health in the workplace?
Mental health, just like one’s physical health, is important. Both are personal journeys that need careful understanding, nurturing, for it to grow and be stable, especially during these extraordinary times.
One of the sessions showcased during the first-ever virtual Public Relations (PR) Congress by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), was Jane Fordham, who talked about the importance of mental health in the workplace.
Fordham, who founded her own consulting firm, underscored the importance of building an empathetic culture in the workplace, which starts by being kind to one’s self. “We must not suffer alone. We are our own worst critics and it is important to be kind to ourselves. We must have room for acceptance and realism – the knowledge that we are living in unprecedented times,” Fordham said.
People’s lives have turned upside down because of the pandemic. According to Fordham, people felt a certain amount of uncertainty, shock and anxiety because of the prolonged disruption brought about by the pandemic. To Fordham, gaining control is important because it allows one to be able to create boundaries, build routines and find a sense of normalcy amid this health crisis.
She also emphasized that similar to physical health, approaching one’s mental health requires a proactive mindset. “Just like exercising or training a muscle, our mental health needs to create a routine based on good habits, adopt lifestyle and working practices to optimize our well-being. These will make ourselves more resilient to challenges,” Fordham added.
Creating a safe space in the workplace
Fordham quoted Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson who described psychological safety as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” This is key in building a workplace that is anchored on kindness, empathy and trust. Employees feel safe in their own place of work and they gain confidence in taking on interpersonal risks. This also helps a company to manage talent and optimize productivity.
This is the kind of culture that PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications are promoting in the workplace. The companies have created programs to help employees strengthen their mental health and resilience in this pandemic.
The companies have launched the “Mind Your Health” campaign, a series of online talks that invite clinical experts and mental health advocates to talk about various mental health issues that range from dealing with mental illnesses and mental health advocacy campaigns.
PLDT and Smart also have online courses to help employees manage their mental well-being. Some of the online courses include topics on de-stressing, meditation and movement, stress management; workplace positivity; and resilience amid unexpected change.
To provide employees with access to mental health services, PLDT and Smart also partnered with professional counselors. Employees can book appointments online and seek treatment and counseling.
All for the purpose of strengthening mental health and resilience in the workplace.