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Featured

Chris Nelson: Why well-being should be an investment

As Executive Director and Trustee of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP), Chris Nelson is responsible for developing the business and social interests of 300-plus member organizations and 600-plus individual members in the country.

    “It’s an understatement to say it’s been a challenging time,” Chris admits, when asked how the chamber is faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have had members whose businesses have been closed for 18 months, as well as individuals who are unable to come back into the country. Additionally, we also have corporate members who are now struggling to pay their membership fees.”

Communication and collaboration

Chris and BCCP do their best to support these struggling members through constant communication, not just between themselves but also with relevant third parties. “We constantly check in with our members to see how we can assist and what support they need. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, we were in constant contact with the Philippine Department of Trade And Industry, relaying our members’ inputs and wishes so that whenever new lockdown guidelines were being drafted by the government, their points of view would be considered,” he explains. 

    And for those members who convey that they can really no longer continue their membership with BCCP for whatever reason, Chris makes sure not to burn bridges. “We always thank them for their past support and tell them that they are always welcome to come back when circumstances change,” he says.

Be forward-thinking
Another thing Chris does to ensure that collaboration and communication continue despite the pandemic is to stay active. “With the challenges of the pandemic, it would be easy to just not do anything at all,” he says. “But if that’s the case, we might as well stop operating. So we adopted a forward-thinking mindset. For example, whatever events we did before the pandemic, we tried to continue doing them, albeit through a virtual set-up. These include everything from training webinars to a Christmas party! It wasn’t the kind of Christmas party that we would have liked to have, but we still ran it, and more importantly we got many people to participate.”

Partners in well-being
BCCP and MindNation co-hosts webinars related to mental health and well-being for their network. As a Gold Member of the BCCP, MindNation provides the chamber with expert advice and customized solutions on how their other members can build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. “MindNation webinars are always appreciated by our members,” Chris affirms. Also known as Company Culture Drive© Talks, these virtual trainings are conducted for organizations to increase awareness on mental health topics and stop the stigma surrounding those with mental health concerns.

    “People have been facing so many challenges because of the pandemic — from losing their jobs to social isolation — that I believe well-being is now more important than ever. People need the support that MindNation provides because they’re either on their own or they’re in very difficult circumstances and don’t know what to do,” Chris adds.

    Furthermore, Chris believes that business organizations need to prioritize mental health well-being in the workplace because of the long-term ramifications of the pandemic. “The social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue for a lot longer, and will lead to fundamental changes in people’s lives,” he stresses. “What was a challenge in the beginning of March 2020 is not the same as the challenges of September 2021, and will continue to alter in the months and years to come. Employees will require a lot of help and support, so what MindNation does is important and will continue to be important.”

Do you want to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams? Partner with MindNation to avail of customized solutions that can address your employees’ holistic well-being needs. Visit www.themindnation.com now!

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Featured

Piril Yagli: Bringing Mental Health In The Workplace Front And Center

Piril Yagli started her career in Insights and Analytics 15 years ago at multinational corporation Procter & Gamble, where she conducted consumer research on the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of people buying fast-moving consumer goods.

In 2020, she joined MindNation as its Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, this time surveying the preferences, attitudes, and motivations of clients towards work and their mental health. Thanks to the data that she and her team are able to gather, MindNation is able to customize its Employee Assistance Program to meet the specific needs of an employee in an organization, a rarity in the mental health care industry where most EAPs only offer fixed packages. 

“I believe that a true mental health and well-being program is and should go beyond just providing a standard one-size-fits-all service,” Piril explains. This is because the people who comprise an organization have different needs and challenges, depending on their age, gender, educational attainment, or even socioeconomic background. 

“In a company, you have all kinds of employees — from white collar to blue collar, from members of GenZ to GenX, all  with completely different challenges that need to be addressed,” she points out. “For instance, our data shows that young, less experienced employees in a business process outsourcing company would like to learn about curbing loneliness during the lockdown or avoiding burnout. On the other hand, more seasoned employees are more interested in finding out how they can work better with younger team members or how they can provide better guidance or support. A one-size-fits all approach cannot fully cover all these needs.”


The importance of Pulse Surveys

MindNation gets its data through Pulse Surveys, biannual online surveys that are conducted the moment the client signs up with the company. “Through Pulse Surveys, we try to extract three types of information. The first is how employees feel about their mental health and well-being status, and if they feel satisfied with their company’s efforts,” Piril enumerates. “Next is to establish a benchmark so that we can track progress and revise the program accordingly. Lastly, we want to figure out the key stressors that employees are facing and what remedies they are after so that we can address the challenges directly.”

The MindNation Pulse Survey differs from the surveys of other EAP companies in two ways: first of all, MindNation created a proprietary Company WellBeing Score©,  a single sum generated from the different variables in the survey. “We use this score to track, measure, and compare one company to another,” Piril explains.

Which brings us to the second unique feature of MindNation Pulse Surveys — comparisons. “MindNation is able to compare data and scores of different companies because of our extensive database, which has responses from over 15,000 employees and growing, ” Piril proudly shares. “This allows us to tell a company ‘This is the state of your team’s well-being versus those of others in the same industry,’ and then follow-up with suggestions on how they can do better.” 


Wake-up call

That being said, business leaders should not feel disheartened or question their leadership skills if their companies get a low score in the Pulse Surveys. “A big portion of employees in every company, across all industries, are facing mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril points out. “Business leaders should not take alarming Pulse Survey results as a poor reflection of themselves. Instead, they should treat it as a wake-up call, as an opportunity to immediately correct ‘mistakes’ and provide resources so employees can have better well-being.” 

For Piril, what is important is that leaders be open, listen, understand and act in urgency to meet the needs of the employees, whether it’s providing access to psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or tailoring webinars to topics that interest their team members.

“From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals.

They especially need to be proactive in addressing the needs of employees who are suicidal, of which there is an increasing number. This is according to the analysis of suicidal thinking employees in the MindNation Pulse Survey database. “From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals. “Assuming that there are 41 million active employees in the Philippines, this means that around 3.3 million employees need immediate help.” 

Importance of suicide prevention policies in the workplace 

Employers need to provide help because suicidal employees are the ones facing more productivity loss, taking more sick leaves, and thinking about quitting the company more than the average employee. So by prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their organization, leaders are not only saving 8% of their workforce, they are also improving productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line. 

Organizations can do this by paying attention to and making mental health services a basic benefit for all employees, stopping stigma in the workplace by cultivating a safe space for mental health discussions, and ensuring that each employee has someone to talk to curb their feelings of loneliness especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.

Download the MindNation Suicide In the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now to learn not only about suicide prevention, but also enhance your capacities to support employees who may be struggling with varying mental health issues and suicidal ideation. http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021

How is your team doing lately? Message [email protected] to find out how we can set up a Pulse Survey for your organization.

Categories
Suicide Prevention

Stop The Stigma: Debunking The Top 5 Suicide Myths And Facts

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers.

Despite increased awareness drives about mental health challenges in recent years, suicide continues to be a serious public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year; this number does not include those who attempt to die by suicide and survive. Even more troubling: suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize the signs that someone is at risk for suicide or self-harm because of the many misconceptions society has about it. Additionally, the stigma prevents those with suicidal ideation to get the help they need to get better. 

“Not talking about suicide does not prevent suicide,” point out Luis Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy. “All it does is make suicidal ideation cultivate in secret rather than out in the open, where people can help one another and address their issues.” 

Luis shares five common and harmful suicide myths and provides the facts to debunk them: 

Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: On the contrary, talking about suicide allows individuals with suicidal ideations to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their story with others so they do not feel hopeless and alone. “Anytime someone initiates a conversation about wanting to take their lives, we should take it as a call for help and never assume that they are joking,” Luis adds. 

Myth: Suicide attempts happen without warning.
Fact:
“Suicides are very rarely spur-of-the-moment occurrences,” Luis says. “Individuals who are suicidal show warning signs, especially to their loved ones, but it’s possible that these loved ones did not recognize those signs. This is why it may seem like the suicide was sudden.” 

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic change in behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

“While it’s possible that there are other explanations for the above behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Luis explains. “Reach out to the person and ask ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you doing lately?’” If they don’t want to share, don’t force this issue, just say “That’s fine, I just wanted to know how you were,” or “Glad to know you’re okay, I’m always here if you need me.’”

But if you are really concerned or have concrete evidence that the person is attempting suicide:

  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Call your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number
  • Get help from a trained professional

Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will never attempt it again.
Fact:
This myth comes from the belief that the physical pain of self-harm will deter someone with suicidal ideation from further attempts. “But people who attempt suicide already believe that death is a preferable alternative to their current situation,” Luis explains. “So if they survived their attempt but the circumstances that led them to think about suicide do not change, you can expect that the attempt will repeat. Maybe the method used to end their lives will be different, but the ideation will still be there.”

Suicide attempts should be taken as call for help. Loved ones must work together to let the person with suicidal ideation see that other options for staying safe or solving their problems are available to them. 

Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact:
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts, just as not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing that we can do.
Fact:
“There is always something you can do; the question is, what are you willing to do?” Luis points out. “Reaching out is one thing, but don’t leave it at that. When someone expresses struggles or pain, take the extra step, be it helping the victim of an abusive relationship leave, or connecting someone with depression to a mental health professional. Show your concern in concrete ways.”

As individuals, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, mental illness, or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. Start by sharing articles on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those related to mental health;  additionally, look for and connect with groups that have the similar objective of wanting to remove the stigma surrounding suicide. 

“Breaking the stigma  about suicide is going to be hard, you may encounter resistance because of the stigma surrounding it,” Luis admits. “But suicide is something that we have to accept is a reality in our society, and talking about it can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions get the help they need.” 

If you or a loved one is in crisis, the MindNation Chat Helpline is available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Rest assured that all conversations are secure and will be kept confidential. Chat with a friend or book a session now though bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Suicide Prevention

5 Key Strategies for Suicide Prevention In The Workplace

Executing a successful suicide prevention program at work requires making sure that there are enough people trained to recognise the risk and taking steps to provide appropriate and effective support. Here are some ways you can achieve this:

  1. Promote good mental health and destigmatize mental health problems
    The best prevention strategy is early intervention. Leaders can help reduce the risk for suicide by building a culture where mental health matters and asking for help is not taboo. You can do this by talking about mental health and therapy in company-wide meetings or mid-level manager one-on-one meetings to promote its importance and advocating or promoting pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.
  2. Extend support and psychological health services.
    According to the results of the MindNation 2020 Pulse Survey, 42% of employees named “access to psychologists” as one of the top ways companies can support their mental health and well-being.
  3. Reduce stress at work.
    It’s important that managers help employees maintain work-life balance and make time for self-care so that they can manage stress better. This can be done by fostering an atmosphere where a direct report can bring feedback whenever they need assistance, and setting clear goals and then giving employees the freedom they need to reach those goals.
  4. Prevent and take action against bullying and harassment.
    Bullying, harassment, and intimidation in the workplace adds to stress at work, which can aggravate mental health challenges and increase the risk of suicide. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe and positive work environment in which the rights of all employees are respected equally. You can do this by adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying in any form, and act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.
  5. Educate and train managers and other key staff on mental health and suicide prevention.
    Managers are in the best position to observe changes in behaviour or hear from co-workers that someone appears to be having difficulties. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on topics like Mental Health First Aid and Managing Depression And Suicide to boost awareness as well as interpersonal and social competencies.  

To learn how to execute these strategies properly and how MindNation can help you, download our Suicide in the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now: http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021.

Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about mental health services for the workplace.

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Featured

Auie Macapaz: Normalizing mental health today for a better tomorrow

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. 

Categories
Mental Health 101

5 Steps To Choosing The Right Therapist For You

Looking for a therapist — whether it’s for self-improvement, to heal from past traumas, or just to maintain good mental health — can be daunting. After all, this is someone whom you will be sharing your deepest and most uncomfortable feelings to, so it is important that you choose a mental health professional who will make you comfortable and give you the right kind of help.

We asked psychologist Luis Angelo Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy to share some steps for choosing a therapist to help you reach your mental health goals: 

Step 1: Ask yourself: “What kind of help do I need?”
There are many types of mental health professionals, specializing in different areas of mental health. Each of them plays a key role in identifying and treating your mental health challenges:

  • Psychologist. Uses evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome challenges and cope with past traumas, present issues, or future concerns. 

“If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist. On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.”

Luis Angelo Villarroel, Psychologist

Just like medical doctors, psychologists have different areas of specialization: there are clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, assessment psychologists, industrial psychologists, child psychologists, etc. While they are all educated in mental health concerns, some are more equipped to deal with certain aspects than others. “If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist,” Luis explains. “On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.” 

  • Psychiatrist. They are the only type of mental health professional who are licensed to prescribe and monitor medication.Most psychiatrists do not offer counseling services, but will give referrals to therapists.
  • WellBeing Coach. They work one-on-one with individuals who want to improve their health and well-being, using concepts drawn from psychology, behavior change, and life coaching fields. A WellBeing Coach can help clients overcome obstacles to maintain healthy habits for life.

Don’t worry if you are unsure which one is suited for you. Luis assures that if the mental health professional that you visit first feels that some other form of therapy will be more suitable for you, they will inform you from the get-go.

Step 2: Start your search.

Once you have narrowed down what kind of therapy or therapist you want, it’s time to begin your search. There are a number of different places where you can begin choosing a therapist. Some options include:

  • Searching online through search engines or social media hashtags. You can also ask around in reputable forums or Facebook groups. 
  • A more secure way would be to inquire with hospitals. “Call the hospital help desk and ask if they provide mental health services,” Luis suggests.
  • An even better option is to ask trusted people for recommendations — friends, family, or your primary care provider. And don’t worry if you end up choosing the same therapist as your friend or loved one; like doctors, mental health professionals are bound by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. “Even if your spouse is my patient, I will treat the two of you as individuals,” assures Luis.

Step 3: Check their credentials

For psychologists and psychiatrists, make sure they are licensed to practice and that they follow guidelines and a code of ethics. Note that while WellBeing Coaches are not required to have a specific degree and they don’t have oversight by a governing board, you can do your own research to check if they are legitimate.

Step 4: Inquire cost

While therapy should always be considered an investment, it is prudent to know how much you will be shelling out per session, especially since mental health concerns cannot be resolved in just one session. That said, note that the professional fee of a therapist is not an indication or reflection of their experience or lack thereof. “Sometimes the cost can be dependent on the location of the therapist; if their clinic is located in a high-end part of the city, for example, expect their cost to be higher due to rent or other factors not necessarily linked to their skills,” Luis explains. 

Step 5: Book a session and get started on your mental health journey

Here is an article outlining about what you can expect during your first session with a psychologist or WellBeing Coach. 

Use this initial appointment to determine if you feel comfortable with the therapist you have chosen. While talking to the therapist, think about these questions:

  • Do you feel like you can talk to this person?
  • Do you feel like you can be honest?
  • Does it feel like this person accepts you?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Will they customize their approach for you?

Know that you can always change therapists, whether it’s just five minutes into the first session or after five sessions. “You are free to withdraw from the therapy anytime you feel it is not working out, if you realize your therapist isn’t a good match for you, or you feel you are not being supported well into your therapy process,” Luis assures. “On our end, we will offer to make whatever adjustments you need so you become more comfortable and continue treatment. But ultimately, rapport with your therapist is very important– the treatments will only work if you feel comfortable with us.”

Finally, know that you have every right to terminate the relationship if the therapist behaves unprofessionally or crosses boundaries. In the Philippines, you can report these untoward incidents to the Professional Regulation Commission or to the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you have chosen the right therapist for you. “We will exhaust all means to help,” Luis says. “And even if we do not work out, I will always encourage you to continue looking for another professional. Sometimes, just talking to someone you can trust — or being able to trust someone again– is already a big help in achieving growth and healing.”

MindNation offers 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through video chat, voice call, or SMS chat. Psychologist session starts at P1,500/hour while WellBeing Coach session starts at P500/hour. Book a session now at bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Employee Wellness

5 Ways To Help Someone Feeling Overwhelmed

If someone is feeling overwhelmed, it means that something is too much, or almost too much, for them to manage. While it’s possible to be overwhelmed by good things (i.e. love or gratitude), it is just as easily possible to be overwhelmed by tasks, chores, and problems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling overwhelmed because work-from-home has become the new norm and so the lines between work and personal lives are no longer clearly delineated,” says relationship coach Aileen Santos. “From my personal experience, people can cope with any amount of stressful work — as long as work is the only thing that is stressing them out. But when personal issues get added to the mix, that is when they buckle.”

This is why when someone says they are feeling overwhelmed, we should not ignore or minimize their pronouncement. “Don’t just look at a team member’s workload, because we don’t know what they are going through behind the scenes,” says Aileen. “We don’t see the triggered traumas, stress, or fatigue that they are experiencing; the workload could just be the last straw.”


“When a team member starts verbalizing that something is happening at home, you need to pay close attention because that could lead them to becoming overwhelmed.”

Aileen Santos, Relationship Coach

Implications of being overwhelmed

When someone is feeling overwhelmed, it can affect their physical and mental health, along with their productivity. They feel physically ill or fatigued without knowing why, start withdrawing from friends and family, have trouble focusing or completing even simple tasks, and might even start to develop mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. All these might just compel affected employees to leave the company, which will end up costing the business even more money. “Millennial and Gen Z employees are now prioritizing their well-being and work-life balance above everything else, even salary, and they are willing to quit their jobs if they feel it is bad for their health,” Aileen reminds. 

For those in personal relationships, not addressing signs of overwhelm can make the bonds even more strained and fractured. 

What to do

It’s important that team leaders and loved ones take steps to support someone who is feeling overwhelmed to avoid bigger physical and mental health problems later on. If someone you love or work with are showing signs of struggling to cope, here are some things you can do:

  1. Listen.  “All companies are struggling during the pandemic, so you might have already gotten used to hearing about work stress,” shares Aileen. “But when a team member starts verbalizing that something is happening at home, you need to pay close attention because that could lead them to becoming overwhelmed.”
  1. Take the load off. A person can only perform their best if they are not overloaded with work, so team leaders and supervisors need to constantly be aware of what each member is doing and redistribute the load when they feel it is becoming too much. 

To step in, start by bringing up observable behavior, then explain that you are redistributing work because you care for the employee’s well-being and not because you do not think they can no longer do the work well. An example would be :“I notice that you have been missing a lot of deadlines already, and there are more coming up. I am concerned that you are taking on too much and it will affect your health, so I’m going to reassign this and that to ease your load.”

For partners and spouses, make sure your relationship at home is a partnership. “Share the load at home — don’t expect your partner to be a breadwinner and at the same time manage the household, while you just focus on your work,” Aileen explains. “Both of you have to support and take care of each other.” 

  1. If the person refuses help, put your foot down. It is not uncommon for a person who is struggling to be in denial about their situation. “There are people whose sense of identity is based on helping others, so they do not recognize that they are the ones who need help,” Aileen points out. “They are more attuned to the feelings of others than to their own.” If this is the case for your loved one, it might be time for some tough love. “Encourage them to rest, even if it means resorting to tactics such as paying for a hotel staycation even before they agree to it,” Aileen suggests.
  1. Get the help of a mental health professional. Psychologists and Wellbeing Coaches can help overwhelmed people address past trauma or teach them ways to cope with stress. Or they can just offer an unbiased and listening ear to someone who needs to express struggles.

    “The companies that are doing well during the pandemic are ones who are prioritizing their employees’ well-being, such as hiring the services of a mental health care provider or even training and reassigning personable team leaders to become in-house mental health champions,” Aileen shares. 

On the other hand, if a loved one is resistant to the idea of seeking professional help, or does not have the time for a session, take it upon yourself to learn what you can do for them. ““There are so many resources available now, from hotlines to teletherapy, so take advantage of those,” Aileen instructs. “If you are seeing signs that your partner is feeling overwhelmed, take the initiative to research or call a hotline to find out what ways you can help them.”  

  1. Lastly, look after yourself. You cannot help someone who is feeling overwhelmed if you yourself are facing struggles of your own. “Self-care is self-preservation,” Aileen says.

So look after your own well-being, such as taking mental health days, eating right, sleeping well, exercising, and finding ways to destress; being calm and relaxed will make you more able to help someone else. 

The MindNation Care Now Plan is customized to support an employee’s holistic health. Services include access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, Group Support Sessions, free audio and downloadable mental health resources, and so much more. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to learn more about our services. 

Categories
Employee Wellness

4 Ways To Support Your Employee’s Career Advancement

A whopping 97 percent of millennial employees consider development in a job important, according to a survey by analytics and advisory company Gallup. The report further states that millennials are the generation most likely to switch jobs and be on the lookout for new opportunities because “they want more out of life, and they believe they can get it.”

Business leaders should therefore give importance to an employee’s career advancement. If they don’t, they risk undermining morale and productivity by leaving talented workers feeling like they aren’t valued.

“The most important part of a company is its people,” says James Michael “Jim” Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holdings, a  wellness company with headquarters in Dubai that makes personal care and hygienic products. “And if you value your people, you should care about how they are developing in their career and in everything else that comes with it.”

Apart from being a multi-awarded business leader, Jim is also a mentor and coach to national and Olympic-level athletes. “One of our key roles as leaders is to nurture the next generation of talent,” he wrote in his blog. “It means pushing them….Believing in them. Stretching them.”

“One of our key roles as leaders is to nurture the next generation of talent.”

James Michael “Jim” Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holdings

Here are some strategies you can use to promote the development of your employees:

  1. Take an interest in your employee’s career goals

Communicate frequently with your team so that you stay attuned to their career aspirations and expectations. Then help them outline a potential career path within the company so they can better visualize their future. Clear, direct, and consistent communication from you about career advancement steps can help workers feel more engaged.

  1. Promote trainings and skills development courses
    There are many virtual learning opportunities available now, so encourage your team to pursue relevant business courses and workshops that will further their career advancement. If you cannot pay for the entire course fee, at least subsidize it —  investing in employee career development can deliver a strong ROI for your business. 

Another option is to conduct an in-house training program, where you or your executives can conduct virtual sessions touching on your various expertise. 

Lastly, look for companies that hold self-improvement webinars that anyone in the team can benefit from, whether they are seasoned executives or new hires. MindNation offers Company Culture Drive talks, which are interactive virtual trainings that cover topics ranging from Beating Burnout to Managing Difficult Conversations.  

  1. Do not sugarcoat feedback.
    “This is the biggest issue in managing people; it’s hard to sit down and tell people ‘You’re not up to your potential,’ ‘You can be so great but you don’t just apply yourself,’ or ‘You need to work on XYZ,’” Jim points out. “But people need different things at different points in their life — sometimes it’s a pat on the back, other times it’s straight feedback. The latter may not always be what they want, but it’s what they need to become better.”
  1. Support work-life balance.
    Encourage your employees to work smart, maximize their efficiency, and leave time and energy for their non-work interests. Taking care of your team’s well-being can also prevent stress from rising and leading to burnout. By adopting policies that enhance work-life balance, you can help your workers find the time to do their jobs, attend to personal demands, and even engage in professional and personal development activities that can help them become the best version of themselves.

“Developing people is at the foundation of great leaders,” Jim wrote. “Building up the skills and capabilities of one’s team is the only sure way to sustainable success in business.”

MindNation’s well-being program is based on a person’s holistic wellness — not only can we help you build teams that are physically, mentally, and emotionally well, we also help them discover their passion and purpose in life so that they become happier, healthier, and more productive. Visit http://www.themindnation.com to know more about our services.

Categories
Featured

Raymund Sison: Nurturing Well-being And Creativity To Make Ideas That Matter

Advertising agencies can be fun and exciting places to work for, but the industry is also known for being highly fast -paced, extremely competitive, and its staff constantly under intense pressure to come up with great ideas on a regular basis. 


But Raymund Sison wanted a different kind of work culture. The Creative Chief of independent digital agency Propel Manila, together with other members of the company’s leadership team, constantly strives to create an organization that puts their people’s well-being over profit. 

And their efforts are paying off. Today, Propel Manila is not only a highly successful creative agency — it counts as its clients fast-food giant Jollibee and luxury brand Kiehl’s — it is locally and internationally recognized for its advocacy works such as Recreate Pride 2020, Complex Emojis (this one in partnership with MindNation; more on that later), Pride @ Tech, and Love Versus Hate.

“I believe creatives and communications professionals have a duty to offer our best and brightest ideas to help solve the world’s most pressing problems,” Raymund says. “We should use our creativity to create ideas that truly matter to the community.”

Keeping creative

“Creativity is not just about doing design or writing; you can be creative in every little thing you do at your office, even if you’re an accounting firm or an engineering company,” Raymund points out. “It’s about finding more innovative ways to do your accounting in the middle of the pandemic, or using digital means to make your engineering even more robust and secure.”

When team members are creative, they solve problems faster and easier than ever before, discover new ideas that will keep clients interested and engaged, and help businesses adapt, innovate, and thrive — — all necessary during these trying times when tried-and-tested business methods are no longer working.

If your team is struggling to be creative because of the pandemic, here are five tips from Raymund on how to get their brains fired up and thriving: 

1. Prioritize the team’s well-being. “When people are well, they do well; and when  they do well, the business does well,” he points out. “At Propel, we believe that the best kind of talent development is human development, so we created programs that will help our team grow professionally, mentally, and emotionally.”

To start, Propel has a Mind Matters Program, a mental health and well-being policy that includes free mental health cards and mental check-ups for staff, weekly talks and forums on mental health, and the designation of the last Wednesday of every month as Mind Day, a no-work day. 

Raymund also encourages his team to take a rest whenever they need it. “I always encourage my people to please tell me how I can help them be better, be creative, or be a better human being,” he says. “If they are stressed, then I will give them the time to breathe.”

2. Promote inclusivity. Safe spaces boost creativity because when a person feels safe, they can be more open about their thoughts and ideas. “Openness is the foundation of creative thinking,” Raymund points out. 

Propel does this by making sure their office is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s rights. “Our bathrooms at the office are gender neutral; we also have a Pride at Propel group in the office for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees,” he shares. “Recently, there were talks in our industry about harassment, so right away we made sure to reifnorce our anti-harassment and anti-discrimination polcies to make sure that we have a safe environment for everyone.

 3. Support diversity. Raymund is proud to say that half of Propel’s 70-plus team is female, while 19% are members of the LGBTQ+ community. “We like to keep our talents as diverse as possible because when you put them together and make them work on one goal, that is where brilliance happens,” he says.

4. Practice servant-leadership. “To quote from Simon Sinek, ‘Leadership is not being in charge, it’s taking care of those in our charge,’” Raymond declares. “My leadership style is very much a combination of a kuya (big bother) and barkada (friend); there’s a lot of care but I’ll also be the first one to call you out if needed. I believe that calling out is a way of showing care, because you are telling your team the truth on how they can be better.”

5. Walk the talk. Propel espouses purposiveness — how can the team use their creativity to help the community? “And because mental health is one of our main advocacies, we feel it’s important that we spread the word about the importance of well-being in the workplace and the community,” Raymund says. “This is where our partnership with MindNation comes in.”

Last July 2020, the two companies worked together to create the world’s first ever Complex Emojis, free social media stickers and gifs which users can post to communicate their hard-to-understand and complicated emotions. The ad for this was named a finalist in the 2021 Ad Stars, the world’s only international advertising festival which combines creativity with cutting-edge technology, and also in the  Asia Pacific Tambuli Awards, the creative show that celebrates creativity with positive world impact. 


In August of that same year, Propel Manila Culture Head Mau Valenzuela joined MindNation CEO Kana Takahasi and Head of Communications and Content Cat Trivino for a Mental Health Matters Livestream via Facebook, where they discussed mental health in the advertising industry, and how leaders can have better mental health care practices in the workplace. 


Lastly, to mark Pride Month last June 2021, Propel partnered with MindNation for the latter’s toolkit on supporting LGBTQ well-being at work, which is a guide for business leaders on how they can make their workplaces safe and inclusive for their queer employees.

“I want my team to continue to create more ideas that matter to the world,” Raymond says. “Creativity is such a superpower and I want to use it as a force for good, to make people better, to change behaviors, and make the world a little better than it was before. Right now is a pivotal time in our society. More than ever, we need to come up with insightful, innovative, and empathetic solutions that can help address humanity’s needs. For me, the pandemic is not an excuse to not have great ideas; there’s no better time to be creative than today.”

Are you passionate about workplace well-being? Partner with us to build a world where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported. Visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more! 

Categories
Employee Wellness

4 Ways To Build A Compassionate Workplace

A 2020 MindNation survey pointed out that 53% of Filipino employees are currently suffering from varying degrees of mental health challenges. The top sources of their anxieties are fears about the COVID-19 virus, financial problems, and work performance pressure. It’s predicted that these numbers will continue to worsen and have a long term impact on work environments, health, and work-life balance.

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “One of the ways they can do that is to be more compassionate; that is, creating a work environment in which employees feel safe and comfortable to express their needs.”

“Business leaders need to be more understanding about how the pandemic is affecting their team members and provide new and different ways of supporting their employees.”

Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist

According to Monica Worline, Executive Director of the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan, a research scientist at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, and co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work, organizations that operate with compassion enjoy the following benefits:

  • Increased employee retention.
    Employees who receive empathy, understanding, and help from their colleagues and superiors are likely to stay in the organization for a long period of time and direct all their efforts for the benefit of the organization.
  • Stress reduction.
    Employees in a compassionate workplace can vent out their professional troubles to each other and socialize in the office. This lets the stress dissipate and increases the likelihood of being more productive.
  • Stronger interpersonal bonds.
    Leaders and managers who follow compassionate approaches at work have employees who will want to reciprocate the goodness they receive. This will lead them to form healthy and strong professional relationships with their team members. 

Lack of compassion at work, on the other hand, results in more absenteeism (the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason), presenteeism (showing up for work without being productive, generally because of ill-health) unhappiness, and disengagement from work. “All these lead to less productivity and increased employee turnover, both of which are bad for the company’s bottom line and image,” points out Jessa. 

As a business leader, you can express compassion in the workplace by:

  1. Initiating difficult conversations with team members on a one-on-one level if you notice they are in pain or undergoing some personal stressors. Regular check-ins are essential so that you get to know your employees on a deeper level and can spot signs that something is amiss in their work or persona lives. And when they do confide in you, communicate understanding and support so that they feel secure and comfortable enough to tell you their needs, whether it’s extra time off or even financial assistance. “Even just telling the person you care and that you’re there for them can be good,” says Jessa.
  2. Actively listening to others without judging them.
    A great place to start is to start a meeting by asking the attendees “How are you?” or other open questions related to their well-being and not saying anything until they’ve completely finished responding. And if a team member is not being forthcoming, just keep reiterating that you are always available to listen whenever they are ready.
  3. Carefully stating criticisms in a constructive manner, so that someone who is underperforming or made mistakes will not take the negative feedback personally.
    In an empathetic work environment, leaders and co-workers treat each other with respect no matter what designations they hold. Additionally, they are open to negotiations and not dictatorial, and ready to lend assistance should anybody need a hand.
  4. Offering learning opportunities such as webinars and resources that focus on mental health. Sometimes, people are not even aware of what it is they need, i.e. self-care or self-compassion until it is already too late. Additionally, leaders may not be properly equipped to conduct mental health first aid or engage in difficult conversations. So partner with a mental health and well-being company that can create a customized program for your employees, making sure that services are geared towards achieving holistic health. 

Emotions and mental well-being influence productivity at work. No person who is undergoing depression or other mental health challenges can work with the same efficiency if they are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Leaders who push for a compassionate workplace culture can directly foster advancement and help distressed employees become capable again.

MindNation can help you develop a more compassionate workplace culture. We hold training programs to help team members to become more empathetic, active listeners, and build emotional resilience. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about our services.