Define the Relationship: Mental Health in the Workplace
Filipinos are marketed as a resiliently happy people. Ironically, according to Manilastandard, “Philippines has the highest number of depressed people in Southeast Asia.” It’s quite a cruel contradiction from the smiling poster child that the media portrays.
In relation to the workplace, the corporate world can be notorious for being all about numbers and neglecting its “human” aspect. What some fail to realize are the detriments of disregarding mental health can do to your business. According to the World Health Organization, “50 million years of work will be lost to depression and anxiety disorders each year between now and 2030.”
DTR: What is the relationship between mental health and the workplace?
The relationship between these two categories is complicated, to say the least—intertwined, and yet, there is still a long way to go in terms of maintaining a harmonious bond.
A normal office job takes up a third of your life, without counting the commute to and from work, and that is a best case scenario. Realistically, in the corporate world, half or more of your day is dedicated to your desk job. That doesn’t even discount the hours you spend answering emails, making phone calls, and stressing about your job outside the hours you are paid for. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the workplace is one of the biggest factors that affect a person’s health.
In Manilastandard, WHO states that, “the workplace is one of the key environments that affects a person’s well-being and health.” The relationship between mental health and the workplace is intensely interconnected, and as much as we all want to succeed, health should always come first.
Why do you need a healthy relationship?
Simply put, if you don’t have one, everything will go up in flames. This goes for us little guys, and the big guys up there in corporate ladder too.
For us little guys, a.k.a. the employees:
It’s important to remember that mental health is interconnected with physical needs. According to Everyday Power, “If you have chronic anxiety and depression, you may have trouble sleeping; thus, putting your physical health at risk…People who suffer from mental illness tend to have lower immunity. This can cause them to easily fall sick”.
Philstar Global stated in 2018, “The National Statistics Office reported that mental illness is the third most common form of disability in the country.” In keeping productivity and competitiveness high, employees are susceptible to burnout and mental health issues. It’s important to remember that mental health is not second to your physical health, it is something that should be one of your top priorities.
For the big guys up in the corporate ladder:
Taking care of your employees’ health is more than a mere task. It affects productivity by an extremely large amount. There’s this corporate saying that everyone can be replaced, but when your biggest assets, a.k.a your employees, are dropping like flies because of mental health concerns, then there’s a bigger problem.
In Business World, they stated that, “In passing the Mental Health Act (Republic Act No. 11036), the government took a step towards affirming the right of all Filipinos, not only the workers, to good mental health and mental health services.” With a law in place, employers are required to provide the following, “1) Raise awareness on mental health issues; 2) Correct the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions; 3) Identify and provide support for individuals at risk; and 4) Facilitate access of individuals with mental health conditions to treatment and psychosocial support.” They are also mandated to keep the confidentiality of their employees’ mental health conditions private under penalty of the law.
For employees, perhaps the best thing to do is to keep yourself informed, seek professional help if the need arises, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. As indicated by Mental Health Foundation, “A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.” In terms of determining what a healthy balance is, that should fall on your judgement.
“Mental Health Support in the Workplace.” Manila Standard, 22 Oct. 2018, manilastandard.net/lifestyle/wellness-environment/278609/mental-health-support-in-the-workplace.html.
“How to Create Groundbreaking Mental Health Policies in the Workplace.” Recruitment Agency and Executive Search Firm in the Philippines – Manila Recruitment, 27 Feb. 2018, manilarecruitment.com/manila-recruitment-articles-advice/create-groundbreaking-mental-health-policies-workplace/.
“Work-Life Balance.” Mental Health Foundation, 15 Sept. 2017, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/w/work-life-balance.
Abrams, Allison. “The Effects of a Toxic Workplace on Sleep Quality.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 28 Apr. 2019, www.verywellmind.com/how-a-toxic-work-environment-may-affect-mental-health-4165338.
Guzman, Sara Soliven De. “Mental Health of Filipinos Today.” Philstar.com, The Philippine Star, 26 Aug. 2018, https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/08/27/1846128/mental-health-filipinos-today.
Jones, Sam. “50 Million Years of Work Could Be Lost to Anxiety and Depression.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Apr. 2016, www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/apr/12/50-million-years-work-lost-anxiety-depression-world-health-organisation-who.
Lim, Shawn. “Why Mental Health Is Just as Important as Physical Health.” Everyday Power, 29 July 2019, everydaypower.com/mental-health-importance-2/.
bw_mark. “How the Mental Health Act Affects Employees.” BusinessWorld, https://www.bworldonline.com/how-the-mental-health-act-affects-employees/.
Lotie Mercado is an Editorial Assistant at WorkWise Asia. She loves literature, art and films.