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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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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.

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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. 

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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! 

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5 Ways To Properly Interact With Persons With Disabilities

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Despite this large number, there are still many able-bodied people who do not know how to properly act towards persons with disabilities (PWDs). They stare, use the wrong words to refer to the disabled person, or even make insensitive jokes. “Most of the time, these are not done intentionally,” says Ed Geronia, a writer, technology entrepreneur, and who has a mobility impairment due to polio. “People just don’t know any better because there is still a lack of awareness about the situation of PWDs, they only know about disabilities from what they see in the media.”

““When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’”

Ed Geronia, Writer, Technology Entrepreneur

It’s important that able-bodied people learn how to interact with PWDs properly so that they will not inadvertently hurt or offend them. Treating someone differently based on their appearance or a certain characteristic is a form of discrimination, and targets of discrimination often suffer effects ranging from low self-esteem to a higher risk of developing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. “At my age, I can brush off jokes and not be as easily offended, but it can be harder for younger PWDs,” points out Ed. “They internalize these hurtful words and actions and those make it harder for them to adapt to society.” 

Ed shares some tips below for properly interacting with people with disabilities.

  1. Never assume what a PWD can or cannot do. “Don’t think that someone who cannot go up or down a flight of stairs,” says Ed. “I can be just as adept as an able-bodied person as long as I have my cane and there are handrails. Similarly, don’t assume that all deaf people cannot communicate properly; they can, it’s just their mode of communication is different from ours.”

    So if a loved one or colleague is a PWD, learn as much as you can about their disability by joining online resource groups or communities. “When you understand their situation more, you will realize that many of your assumptions are unfounded,” he adds.
  2. Be patient. It takes persons with disabilities a longer time to complete tasks compared to able-bodied people. “The world in general is not very PWD-friendly,” Ed shares. For example, not all countries have audible signal lights to aid the sight-impaired, or wide sidewalks for those who need to use wheelchairs. So if, for example, you are accompanying a person with a  mobility impairment up a flight of stairs, or standing in line at the automated teller machine behind a person with a sight impairment, don’t rush them. Instead, ask what you can do to assist.
  3. Always ask before you help. On more than one occasion, Ed has experienced helpful strangers snatching his cane away from him in their eagerness to assist when they encounter him going up or down the stairs. “I know they’re just trying to help, but when they take my cane away out of the blue, it throws me off-balance and I either trip or fall,” he shares. “I usually have to tell them ‘It’s okay, I can manage.’” 

Another example — when you see someone in a wheelchair going up a ramp and they are steadily ascending, just let them be; don’t suddenly grab the handlebars and start pushing, you will just jolt the person and impact their balance. 

So before you help someone, ask first if they would require assistance, and don’t be offended if your offer is declined.“Many of us are just doing things at our own pace and even though it may seem to you that we are struggling, we are fine and would rather complete the task on our own,” Ed adds.  

  1. Avoid offensive or inappropriate language. Commonly accepted terminology includes “people/persons with disabilities” and “a person with a visual/hearing/physical/speech/cognitive impairment.” On the other hand, annoying or offensive terms include: wheelchair-bound (use wheelchair-user), victim of, suffers from, retarded, deformed, or crippled. “When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’” Ed assures.

    Moreover, do not ask a disabled person that you just met or are not close to “What happened to you?” or “What’s the story behind the cane?” This makes people with disabilities feel that they are seen first for their disabilities instead of who they really are. “If you are really curious, ask first ‘Do you mind if I ask why you have a cane?’” Ed shares. “And if the person says ‘Yes, I mind,’ just leave it at that, don’t force the issue.”

For this same reason, do not describe a person as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to the conversation. Do not say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the deaf lawyer?” Instead, just say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the lawyer?” 

  1. Educate yourself. By learning about the different forms of disabilities, you also learn how you can bring about the necessary changes needed to improve how you interact with them. For those who want to get started, Ed recommends the following books and movies:
  • The Theory of Everything (film). Tells the struggle that world-renowned genius Stephen Hawking went through while dealing with his motor-neurone disease.
  • Crip Camp (film). A critically-acclaimed documentary film about a camp designed for teens with disabilities and how these campers became disability rights activists. 
  • Sound of Metal (film). About a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing.
  • Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law (book). A memoir by Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School.
  • Criptionary (book). A humorous collection that brings attention to the everyday struggles and obstacles faced by persons with disabilities 
  • I See Things Differently: A First Look At Autism (book). Written for kids, it will help them understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it.

Persons with disabilities are human too. By acknowledging their differences as you would acknowledge anyone else’s uniqueness, you show them the respect and empathy that they deserve and avoid unconsciously offending or hurting them.

If a loved one with a disability is struggling with mental health challenges because of the way they are treated by others, our psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mindnationchat.

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The Power Of Keeping Quiet: 4 Situations When It’s Best To Be Silent

There are many situations where speaking up and expressing our thoughts and feelings is the best thing we can do for ourselves and for others. However, there are also situations in which it’s better that we step back and just listen. 

Learning to identify these situations is valuable because it can make or break relationships and affect how conflicts are resolved. “There are times when speaking up will only make things worse,” agrees psychologist Riyan Portguez. “So always consider the context, mood, and environment before you say something.” 

“There are times when speaking up will only make things worse. So always consider the context, mood, and environment before you say anything.”

Riyan Portuguez, Psychologist

Riyan shares some situations when it’s best to keep your peace. 

  1. When you are physically unable to think clearly.

This happens when you are tired, drunk, or even hangry. “Couples always receive the advice that ‘You should never go to bed without fixing the problem,’ but I don’t agree with that statement all the time,” Riyan says. “This is because if you are tired, you will be more irritable, impatient, and have difficulty regulating your emotions. These increase the likelihood that you will say something that you will regret later.”

So rest, sleep on it, and discuss the conflict when you are in a better physical state.

  1. When you are feeling emotional. 

While there is anger that can and should be expressed right away regardless of the circumstances  — when you are being violated, for example — you should also be mindful of the times when you know that your rage will be uncontrollable and hurtful to others. “During these situations, it’s better to take a powerful pause,” Riyan advises. “Tell the other person that ‘I don’t think I can handle this situation well right now, I need some time off, we’ll discuss this when I’m in a better state of mind.’” This at least informs the other person that you are not brushing off their concerns and are still willing to resolve the conflict. 

Now, if the other person still demands a response from you, you need to put your foot down and stand your ground. “If they are being insistent, it only means that they are also experiencing heightened emotions; you cannot expect them to think clearly either,” Riyan explains. “So tell them firmly but politely that you do not want to engage with them when they are like that, that they also need to cool off if they want to have a productive conversation.”

  1. When you don’t know the whole story

If you are asked to weigh in on an issue that you are unfamiliar with, speculations on your part can do more harm than good if the issue is about something that will likely have a big impact on another person. For example, if someone is asking your opinion about which vaccine brand works best against COVID-19 but you are not a medical doctor, admit that your knowledge is limited instead of sharing rumors or unverified information. 

  1. When you are explicitly requested not to speak.

This can happen when someone needs to have a difficult conversation with you, or when they just need a listening ear as they unburden themselves. In such cases, resist the impulse to defend yourself or offer advice; instead just practice active listening. 

Being silent is not a sign of weakness; learning to control your reactions and identifying your battles takes maturity. “Before you say something, always go back to your intentions,” Riyan suggests. “Are you responding out of fear, insecurity, or hate? Or is it because of concern or love? Your answer will help determine when you should speak up and when you should stay quiet.”

MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 if you want to improve your communication skills, manage your emotions, or improve your relationships with loved ones or co-workers. Book a session now at https://bit.ly/themindnatiochat

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Darlyn Ty-Nilo: 7 Strategies For Designing Your Best Life

In 2006, Darlyn Ty-Nilo created the Belle de Jour (BDJ) Power Planners with the initial goal of helping Filipino women plan their days better. What started out as a passion project has now grown into a movement with over 9,000 members (known as “Bellas”) who swear by BDJ parent company Viviamo Inc.’s advocacy of empowering Filipinas to live their best lives. Viviamo Inc. does this not only through artful planners and journals, but also through campaigns and activities that engage with their community. 

For her work and efforts, Darlyn was awarded the Mansmith Young Market Masters Awardee for Entrepreneurship in 2010, became one of the youngest Agora Awardees for Entrepreneurship in 2012, and was named one of the Outstanding ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs in 2017. More recently last June 2020, she was honored as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipino Women on Linked In.

“So get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself; and when you make mistakes, don’t be afraid to fall out of love with yourself. Then rediscover what else you can do. It’s all part of the process, and when you trust in the process, everything else will fall into place.”

Darlyn Ty-Nilo, Viviamo Inc.’s President and Managing Director

Darlyn reflects on her life and career and shares her X tips for designing a life that is successful and fulfilling:

  1. Follow your “true choice.” “My first job right out of college was a failure,” Darlyn shares. Despite graduating with high marks and winning national marketing competitions in college and putting in extra hours with the multi-national company she was working for, she was not regularized after the probationary period of her employment. “I realized I failed because what I was doing was not what I really wanted; instead, I only did things to please society’s expectations of me,” she explains. “I would be told things like ‘You should accept the best job offer out there even if you don’t like it because to do otherwise would show you are ungrateful.’ Or I would hear that I had to take the accounting board exams because my studies would just go to waste if I didn’t. But all these comments stem from a mindset that opportunity only comes once; what if the truth is that the opportunity that is knocking on your door is merely testing you to find out what is really in your heart?”

So when Darlyn decided to go into the business of making and designing planners, she made sure to allot pages where people could write down their goals. “I wanted people to start their year asking themselves what kind of life they would want to have, because designing your best life starts with knowing what kind of life you want,” she declares. 

  1. Know that the path to success is never linear. It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to pause and reflect if you’re feeling stuck or confused, and it’s absolutely okay to change your mind if things are no longer working out. “It doesn’t matter whether you change your mind after three months or three years,” Darlyn assures. “What’s important is to keep on writing about it, because the act of writing down your goals and dreams provides clarity, and clarity will always give you power.”
  2.  Another way to create clarity — set routines. “I’m a big believer in routines,” Darlyn confesses. “This is because when you create structures to your day and life, you’re anchored on your goals and don’t get lost. It’s like you’re trying to walk a straight line; if there’s no line on the ground to begin with, how can you achieve that goal?”

With Darlyn, her overarching goals are to run her business effectively and spend quality time with her family, so she makes sure she plans her day in a way that ensures she has the time and energy to devote herself to both.

  1. Included in that routine — making time for self-care. “In the past few months, I was not allotting time for fun at all,” Darlyn shares. “At night when we were supposed to be resting, my husband and I would watch webinars or workshops, or I would read books related to business or self-improvement because I had to keep thinking of ways to keep the business running during the pandemic. Then a friend reminded me that I needed more play time, and I remembered the saying that ‘You cannot give what you don’t have.’ How can I expect my business and family to thrive and be happy if I myself was always tired and stressed?”

So today, Darlyn makes it a point to spend a few hours a day reading fiction books instead of business tomes, and has switched her caffeine-laden mornings with more nutritious smoothies. “I gave myself permission to rest and take care of myself,” she says. “Even on days that are extra-busy and my downtime is only 10 minutes long, I make sure the entire time is about me and my needs, not about my work or the family. “ 

  1. Set clear expectations with those around you — even with the ones you love. Like everyone else who owns a smartphone, Darlyn is a member of multiple chat groups at work so she can properly align and coordinate specific projects with the right people. When the pandemic happened and she and her husband found themselves together at home all the time, she knew she needed to implement a similar system to keep track of their conversations and achieve their goals in a more efficient way. “Before the pandemic, we had space from each other and it was clear who took care of what what,” she explains. “But when the lockdown caused us to be together all the time, lines became blurred because we were now getting involved in each other’s lives and responsibilities.”

Her solution: she also created chat groups for her and her husband on specific topics — food, finances, learning, family, and matters related to just the two of them. “This way, everything is documented and expectations are clearer about who will do what,” she shares. “This leads to less conflict and friction.” 

  1. Take care of your mental health. “I started seeing a psychologist in 2013,” Darlyn shares. “I am such a believer in professional help that before I married my husband, I made him see my psychologist as well so he can work out any issues that he may have. Now, we also schedule sessions before every major milestone in our lives — like before I would give birth, for example, just so we can check-in and process our emotions before these upheavals.” 

While Darlyn has many friends that she can turn to for support, she firmly believes that mental health professionals are better at helping her understand her issues and remediate problems. “Friends are biased, no matter how hard they try to control it; it’s human nature,” she points out. “On the other hand, psychologists are trained to improve our lives. Part of designing your best life is taking care of your mental health, and one of the best ways you do that is to seek the help of a professional.”

Her belief in the importance of mental health led her to partner with MindNation this year. Every last Wednesday of the month, BDJ and MindNation hold monthly live streams on Facebook to raise awareness about issues related to mental health and well-being.

“I really in believe MindNation’s vision of making mental health more accessible to all,” she adds. “The goal of our partnership is to start the conversation on mental health, erase the stigma, and make sure that people have a better understanding of mental health concerns.”

  1. Never stop improving. “I believe that we are sent here to Earth to find what will make us happy and to become the best versions of ourselves,” Darlyn says. “So get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself; and when you make mistakes, don’t be afraid to fall out of love with yourself. Then rediscover what else you can do. It’s all part of the process, and when you trust in the process, everything else will fall into place.”

Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive individuals. Email [email protected] for more information.  

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Featured

Kana Takahashi: Building A World Where Mental Health Is Valued, Accepted, And Supported

In 2014, Kana Takahashi was a bright-eyed pre-med student taking up Psychology at one of the Philippines’ top universities when one of her professors started talking to the class about mental health. “Back then, I didn’t know much about mental health,” she explains. “So when I heard my teacher talking about it, I got really curious.”

This curiosity led her to join the Youth For Mental Health Coalition — the only mental health organization in the Philippines at that time — and it was here that Kana became aware about the state of mental health in the country and the stigma faced by people with mental health concerns. Up until 2018, she immersed herself in advocacy work, learning not only about mental health but also about other causes like feminism and human rights.  From attending seminars, she was soon conducting them herself; additionally, she became involved in groups that pushed for laws like the Safe Spaces Act (which increases protection against sexual harassment, among others), the bill legalizing divorce (which is still currently being deliberated in Congress), and the Philippine Comprehensive Mental Health Law (which was signed into law last June 2018).

Along the way,  Kana started to reconsider her plans of becoming a doctor. “I started to ask myself why I wanted to become a doctor, and the answer I came up with was that I wanted to help people. And I realized that what I wanted was to help people now, not after four to five years of medical school.” With that in mind, Kana decided to just look for work that could sustain her financially and at the same time continue her advocacy work with the organizations she was currently affiliated with.

“I started to ask myself why I wanted to become a doctor, and the answer I came up with was that I wanted to help people. And I realized that what I wanted was to help people now, not after four to five years of medical school.”

Kana Takahashi, MindNation Co-Founder and CEO

The birth of MindNation

Along with some friends, Kana co-founded MindNation in January 2020, with the initial goal of providing mental health services for organizations, as mandated by the Philippine Mental Health Law. The company started with just four people (including Kana) and one psychologist.

But in March 2020, just three months after the company launched, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Many businesses coped with lockdown measures by cutting down on expenses — including putting all talks with MindNation on the back burner.

A CEO of any other start-up would have wrung their hands and panicked, but Kana was unfazed. “I didn’t get worried because I knew that what we were doing had value,” she says. “It was just a matter of making companies understand that — especially with the pandemic — investing in people is not a waste of resources.  Before the pandemic, all that companies wanted to see were numbers — ‘How can the mental health program that you are offering me boost my revenue?’ ‘What’s the ROI?’  But because of the pandemic, we were able to shift their mindset from ‘How can this benefit my business?’ to ‘How are my employees doing?’

Going above and beyond

And while other companies looked for ways to tighten their belts during the pandemic, MindNation did the opposite — they started offering their teletherapy services for FREE to the sectors most affected by COVID-19, from Philippine-based employees and students, to retrenched employees, medical frontliners, and even to members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+ community). 

“We partnered with amazing mental health advocates like Senator Risa Hontiveros, as well as LGBTQ+ organizations, and women’s organizations to offer these pro bono services,” Kana points out.  “The fact that many non-government organizations were willing to work with a business like us — which is very rare — is proof that they saw the value in what we were doing,” Kana says.

Growing strong

Today, MindNation has a team of 50 employees and 20 psychologists, some of whom are located in other parts of the world. The company is now partners with over 40 organizations across industries, has expanded into Middle East North Africa (MENA), and is currently looking to grow more in other parts of the world.  In addition, they have gone beyond offering their services solely to organizations; individuals with mental health and well-being struggles can now also avail of the company’s 24/7 teletherapy sessions.

“MindNation’s vision is to build a world where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported,” Kana explains. “And we can only do that by making mental health care accessible to all.”

Best assets

Kana attributes the company’s growth and success to its team. “Every successful company has great people, people who go to work not just to work but to actually make a positive impact,” she says. “That’s what I‘m really proud of. In MindNation, we don’t work to feed the pockets of certain people, we do it because we’re working on life changing things.”

When it comes to supporting mental health in the workplace, the company walks the talk and has made the mental health programs that it offers to its client-partners available to employees as well. MindNation team members have access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches and mental health leaves with pay. “The culture inside is also great, we can talk to each other about work and personal matters while maintaining a good working dynamic,” Kana shares. 

Looking ahead

Kana is looking forward to taking up post-graduate studies related to mental health so that she can grow the company more and support more employees. “Personally, I want to be able to help as many people as possible, even in little ways, whatever help looks like for them,” she affirms. 

Partner with MindNation to build happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Message us on https://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

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Featured Self Help

7 Solutions For Time Management Issues

Whether you’re a student, stay-at-home-parent, or working in a company, time management is an essential skill to have. When you are better at planning your day, prioritizing work tasks, and eliminating distractions, you can achieve your goals and be less impacted by stress or burnout. 

Here are some things you can do to manage your time better:

“Spreading yourself thin will sabotage the success of anything you’ve already committed to. By learning the art of saying a tactful “no” to others, you’ll protect your time budget and improve your focus on your most valuable activities.”

Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer
  1. Avoid multitasking. Multitasking — also known as switchtasking — is doing multiple tasks at once. Many people believe that multitasking makes them productive, but all that shifting back and forth between tasks isn’t actually that efficient because each time you do it, it takes your brain more time to refocus. Not only does multitasking reduce productivity, it also increases the likelihood of mistakes happening and negatively impacts our stress levels. So try to complete one project or task at a time before moving to the next one; your brain will thank you for it. 
  1. Merge different email accounts into one inbox. According to a 2019 report by management consulting company McKinsey & Co., the average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and email. Get this time back by making a few changes to your email settings and having all incoming email delivered to just one inbox.
  2. Treat your calendar as your time budget. Time isn’t money, not always, but it does behave like money; it must be budgeted because when it’s gone, it’s gone. So when you schedule things into your calendar, think of it the same way you would think about withdrawing money from a bank account. Everyone has a weekly limit of 168 hours; try your best to live within this time budget and never overdraw because once you do, you’ll go into time debt.
  3. Avoid having back-to-back-to-back appointments.This isn’t practical or realistic, especially in today’s information-overloaded world. Leave space between your appointments for unexpected interruptions, to take a moment to relax, or to prepare for the next meeting.
  4. Say “No” more often than you say “Yes.” Always remember that whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you are, in effect, saying “no” to something else. In other words, spreading yourself thin will sabotage the success of anything you’ve already committed to. By learning the art of saying a tactful “no” to others, you’ll protect your time budget and improve your focus on your most valuable activities.
  5. Procrastinate properly. When a new idea comes into your head, ask yourself, “Do I need to do this now, or can I do it later?” As long as you are using your calendar properly as a time budget, procrastination can actually be your friend. Appropriate procrastination can help you, because you’re still going to complete those ideas, just at a later date. Don’t limit your calendar to what can be done today or within a week; instead, think in terms of months or even years.
  6. Identify your Most Valuable Activities (MVAs). These are the top two activities that you excel at, the ones that would cost you the most per hour to pay someone else to do. All the other activities that you do during work time other than those two MVAs are your less valuable activities, or LVAs, and if you’re like most people, you’re likely spending the majority of your work time in these very low value, low impact LVAs.

In order to achieve maximum results during the limited amount of work time you have each week, prioritize your MVAs in your calendar and delegate LVAs to your team or your colleagues when possible. By leaving less room for options, you minimize the temptation to multitask and improve your overall focus. The result: more disposable time, and you reach your goals faster.

Time will always fill the space you give it, so use it wisely. 

If your team is struggling with productivity, MindNation has a repertoire of virtual webinars to help employees with time management, manage stress, and avoid burnout. Partner with us to help build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Email [email protected] to know more.

By Salma Sakr, MindNation Chief Growth Officer

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Featured

10 Takeaways From #LeadershipDuringCrisis: Tackling Mental Health During COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable

During Mental Health Awareness Month 2021, MindNation held its first ever virtual roundtable for business leaders to learn and discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected mental health and well-being in the workplace. 

“Traditionally, topics like substance abuse, anxiety, and depression used to be considered personal matters and not addressed in the workplace,” explains MindNation Chief Marketing Officer Cat Triviño. “But the lines are now blurred and we can longer deny the effects of mental health concerns on an organization’s bottomline and overall success.

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo kicked off the event by delivering the Welcoming Remarks, sharing that “Building a better normal means constantly recognizing that no single area of human health is more important than another.”

In addition, data experts and mental health advocates Ajay Bangia of global market research firm Ipsos and MindNation Chief Insights Officer Piril Yagli discussed how creating a culture that values psychological safety affects a company’s growth and success during these trying times. 

Finally, top industry leaders Merlee Jayme, Global President of advertising agency Dentsu Mcgarrybowen, Mark Lyndsell, CEO for the Global English Region of business process outsourcing company Transcom Worldwide, and Kevin Williams, Country General Head of cloud solutions provider RingCentral, offered insights and new ideas on the implementation of mental health programs. 

Here are some of the key points shared by the speakers:

“We must open more spaces to talk about mental health, create avenues where people can share their struggles comfortably without feeling ashamed, and foster an environment of love, care, and support.”

Vice President Leni Robredo
  1. Mental health and well-being issues are a growing problem in the workplace.

When Filipino employees were asked to rate their mental wellness pre- and post-pandemic on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is “depressed” and 10 is “feeling my best self”), they felt an 8 before the pandemic versus a declining 6.5 after the pandemic.
 

According to Ajay Bangia, the depression, stress, and anxiety felt by people are due to job insecurity, work pressure, and difficulty handling work-life balance. 

Additionally, people are feeling a high degree of isolation. “Loneliness is one of the key sources of mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril Yagli of MindNation says. 

  1. No one is exempt from mental health challenges, but some are more affected than others.

In the Philippines, employees who are 18-30 years old, working the night shift, and who indicated their gender as LGBTQ (or would prefer not to say) are the ones most likely to be struggling with COVID-related fears, financial pressures, personal matters, work performance pressures, and juggling work and family life. 

  1. Women with children are also facing greater amounts of stress levels.

Because of the pandemic, working mothers have to juggle being full-time mothers as well as breadwinners. “Their whole day turns into a roller coaster of work, then kids, then house chores, then preparing meals,” Piril shares. 

“Home used to be a place for rest, now it has merged into our work life,” Merlee Jayme of Dentsu Mcgarrybowen adds. “Work has eaten into all of our personal space.”

  1. All these mental health and well-being challenges significantly impact the company– to the tune of PHP7 million per year (for every 1,000 employees). 

This amount is lost due to:

  • Absenteeism. 13% of employees said they would take a sick leave due to mental health and well-being challenges
  • Presenteeism. 35% of employees revealed they are unproductive at work for up to two hours a day — equivalent to losing one day in a week or up to two months in a year. 
  • Talent loss. 5% of employees in a company stated that they would quit their jobs due to mental health and well-being challenges. 
  1. Unfortunately, not everyone is open about their struggles.

Only 10% of employees would tell their superiors that they are taking a sick leave due to mental health challenges. This is because there is still a stigma surrounding mental health especially in the workplace. Employees fear that talking about depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns will negatively affect how managers view them and their job performance.

  1. Three things that companies can do to address the mental health crisis in the workplace:
  • Create a Mental Health company policy. While the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment requires workplaces in the formal sector to implement Mental Health Workplace Policies and Programs, many companies still have not created such.
  • Stop the stigma by talking about mental health openly. “Leverage mid-level managers to talk with their teams, understand their challenges, and make them aware what help is available,” Piril suggests.
  • Lastly, partner with a mental health and well-being provider who cares. While many corporations do have Employee Assistance Programs, research has shown that the usage rate of these support systems are lower than 10% because most of them are not accessible 24/7 all year round. “It is important to partner with a mental healthcare provider that has psychologists and WellBeing Coaches who are available all day, everyday, so that employees can get help the moment they need it, rather than waiting until it is too late,” she adds.
  1. To create a workplace culture that values and supports mental health and well-being, managers need to be more empathetic and employee-centric. 
  • “Show empathy. Let your colleagues know you feel the same way they do, that you can talk about real things, not just revenues and client budgets,” Merlee suggests. 
  • “Mental health needs to be overcommunicated,” Kevin Williams of RingCentral shares. “When people come to you, ask the easy yet hard question, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Are you happy?’”
  • “What we need today are leaders and organizations with a high degree of Emotional Intelligence,” Mark Lyndsell of Transcom Worldwide adds. “As a leader I’m willing to sacrifice IQ provided I have leaders who are grounded, transparent, authentic, and flexible.”
  1. Listen and understand the needs of the organization. 

47% of employees think they have too much work,” Piril shares. “So please make it a priority to talk to your teams, try to understand what they’re working on, is there anything that can be simplified, automated, or outsourced?”

  • “In our office, we have Wellness Wednesdays,” Merlee says. “These are no-meeting days that employees can use to catch up on work or just zone out.”
  • “At RingCentral, we have a quarterly company CaRING Day — adding a paid holiday and an extended weekend to every quarter to encourage our teams to disconnect from work and recharge,” Kevin adds
  • Employees of Transcom are encouraged to communicate openly with their leaders. “Every single day we poll our employees on how they are feeling; and if they are feeling down, to tell us why,” says Mark.
  1. It takes action and collaboration from all sectors to create happier and healthier spaces for all. 

“We must treat mental health as an important aspect of our healthcare agenda,” says Vice President Leni Robredo. “We must open more spaces to talk about mental health, create avenues where people can share their struggles comfortably without feeling ashamed, and foster an environment of love, care, and support.”

  1. There is no health without mental health. 

“The last 15 months of the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the mental health of organizations and many have been found wanting,” Mark adds. “I believe that there is so much more we can and should be doing, and as a leader it starts with me.”

According to Piril, the top 5 things that employees want to overcome their mental health and well-being challenges are psychologist services, WellBeing Coach consultations, training on mental health and well-being, fitness coaches, and sick leaves for mental health concerns. “For a mental health and well-being program in the workplace to be effective, the provider needs to listen to the voices of the employees, understand their challenges, and provide solutions specific to their needs,” she says. 

MindNation uses a data-based approach to create proactive, customized, holistic health programs for your employees. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Email [email protected] now!