Firms play 'crucial' role in workers' mental well-being amid pandemic — experts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 15) — With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on the mental health of employees, company leadership should take steps to help them cope with the trying times, according to experts.

"Our leaders and our managers in the workplace can create an opportunity or a crucial role to shape how we respond to this pandemic especially that we are restructuring our work hours and workplace," National Center for Mental Health medical specialist Dr. Rodney Boncajes told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

For instance, they can establish "clear" communication with employees on their concerns and needs, and facilitate peer and team support, said Boncajes - who's also a psychiatrist.

Company leaders may also extend resources to help their personnel manage their workplaces at home, and remind them on how they can take care of their mental health, he added.

Research by MindNation showed over 50% of employees are feeling a degree of mental health issues amid pandemic. The study said these concerns have long existed before the health crisis but are highlighted all the more nowadays.

"We're also dealing with different kinds of pressure...employees must deal with new working conditions as well, having to balance family life and other responsibilities as well and fear of the pandemic, of contracting the virus," MindNation head of content and communications Cat Triviño said.

She also reminded companies that they are mandated to provide programs addressing their employees' psychological well-being and support under the Mental Health Act.

These may come in the form of providing tele-therapy with psychologists and well-being coaches, along with webinars and training for employers themselves to equip them in handling these concerns, Triviño added.

However, she also noted that ultimately, taking care of mental health in the workplace is a shared responsibility.

"The employees and the employers actually have to take a more active role into protecting the psychological safety of their team members," Triviño said.