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Auie Macapaz: Normalizing mental health today for a better tomorrow

For Avon Cosmetics’ Talent and Organizational Development Manager, prioritizing mental health in the workplace benefits not just the organization but also the world.

As Talent and Organizational Development Manager of direct selling beauty company Avon Cosmetics Inc. (ACI) in the Philippines, Laurice “Auie” Macapaz oversees the mental health and welfare of close to 300 employees. Not an easy task during the COVID-19 pandemic as team members are grappling with fatigue, anxieties about job security and income, and other mental health challenges.

But the realization that the company needed the services of a mental health and well-being company started back in 2018, when two ACI associates were diagnosed with clinical depression. “Back then mental health programs were not yet mainstream for organizations, so it was only when we were faced with this particular challenge that we saw how lacking our mental health coverage was,” Auie relates. Because the costs of psychiatric consultations and medicines were not included in their then-healthcare provider’s plan, the two Avon associates had a hard time managing their symptoms. 

“While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

Laurice “Auie” Macapaz, AVON Talent and Organizational Development Manager

Additionally, even the direct manager of the two employees was at a loss on how to provide care. “None of us knew how to properly give support because we lacked awareness and training about mental health,” she shares. “While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

In the end, the two associates opted to resign from the company because their psychiatrist told them that it would be better for their health if they just took time off from work. “If we had the services of a professional to help them navigate what they were going through, they would probably have lasted longer in  the organization, or at the very least, would have been able to manage their condition better,” Auie laments.

This where MindNation came in
MindNation fulfilled Auie’s wish for ACI to have a well-being program that is focused on holistic health and customized for each employee’s needs. The partnership recently celebrated its first anniversary, and proved that achieving good workplace mental health is a marathon, not a sprint. 

 “It was a slow start in the beginning, very few of our associates were availing of the 24/7 teletherapy services,” Auie admits. “This is because many of our associates come from a generation where if you tell them you are depressed or anxious, they would respond with ‘Oh, just pray about it,’ or ‘You’ll feel happier if we go out for a meal.’ They believe that you should only talk to a psychologist if things are already dire.”

Auie and the rest of ACI’s Human Resources department worked to change this mindset by exerting efforts to normalize talking about mental health and therapy during monthly check-in sessions. “I would nonchalantly tell the associates ‘Oh, I have had four sessions with a MindNation WellBeing Coach already and this is what I learned,’” she says. “I even shared with them that my teenage son has also been seeing a WellBeing Coach and it’s helped him so much this way and that.” Because of these initiatives by HR, bookings for sessions started to increase.

Another obstacle that Auie and MindNation encountered was ACI’s low open rate for the weekly newsletters (WellBeing Boosts) that MindNation sends to all its client-partners. “In the beginning, only 10% of the recipients were reading those emails,”  Auie reveals. She admits that this is because the associates are so swamped with work and correspondence on a daily basis that if the email does not come directly from their boss, they will not bother to open it. 

To solve this problem, Auie and MindNation decided that instead of sending emails to each and every employee, MindNation would send the materials to Auie, who in turn would upload them on the Facebook group page of Avon Philippines’ associates. “We have about 250 members in that Facebook group, and for the past few months I have been getting 160 views each upload. So from a 10% open rate,it’s now at more than 60%, which is not bad,” she proudly shares. 

But more than these numbers, Auie is happy that there is now a change in attitude of the employees about mental health. “I see it when our associates attend the MindNation Company Culture Drive Talks every month,” she shares. “Before, they would just sit there and listen; now they are interacting with the speaker more. Before, when the speaker would start off by asking them how they are feeling, they would just say ‘I am fine’ or ‘I am okay;’ but now they are more authentic in their feelings, they are divulging more emotions and acknowledging how they are really feeling.” 

Special group session

Auie is also thankful to MindNation for instances when the company went above and beyond what was required of it. “Last month, one our Business Development Managers (BDM) shared during a MindNation Group Session that one of the members of her sales team committed suicide, and that she was feeling guilty and sad about it,” she shares. “The WellBeing Coach facilitating the session picked up on that and a few days later, MindNation reached out to us and offered a free session for that BDM and other associates who knew that person who passed, to help them cope and make sense of their emotions. I think that was a great thing, it was more than what MindNation signed up for, and I really appreciated that.” 

Future plans
There is still a long way to go. “My wish is that those who had teletherapy sessions would share their experience with others, so that those who are shy or hesitant will also get help,” Auie says.

Plans are also underway to train select ACI team members to become wellbeing champions in the organization. “I am so excited for those people to get trained in mental health first-aid and become the go-to people of our associates if they have questions about the different mental health services that MindNation is offering, so that they can get the help they need,” she adds.

Ultimately, Auie’s dream is for Avon representatives to become multipliers of mental health and well-being. “I want to normalize mental health and well-being so that we can become each other’s active supporter in dealing with mental health challenges,” she says. “At ACI, we have almost a million people in our sales force — many of them women — and all our field associates have access to them. Our company mission is to empower women, so if we could teach these women and mothers how they can take care of themselves and others better by normalizing the conversation about mental health, then the world will be a better place.”

Auie highly recommends that other companies partner with a mental health and well-being company as a way of supporting their HR team. “Times are hard now and we cannot do it alone,” she says. “I cannot imagine being in this pandemic, taking care of all my people, and going through this roller coaster of emotions without the assistance of MindNation.”

MindNation can help you build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.mindnation.com to know more. 

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