5 ways to establish mental wellness in the workplace

May 01, 2024

MakatiMed reminds: Small changes make a huge difference

Ninety thousand hours. One-third of your life. That, according to industrial-organization psychologist and data scientist Andrew Naber, is the amount of time the average person will spend at work over a lifetime. With so much of our waking hours devoted to our job, isn’t it only fair to expect our workplace to be a safe, comfortable, and toxic-free environment, one that supports employees’ mental health and wellbeing? 

Yes, says Jon Edward B. Jurilla, MD, chief of the Section of Psychiatry of the top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). “Companies that prioritize the mental health of their workers can expect inspired productivity, sound decision making, and harmonious interactions among colleagues. When employees feel at ease in the workplace, they perform better, are motivated to get up in the morning, and are less likely to be depressed or suffer from burnout. It’s a win-win situation for all.”

In the Philippines, employers in the private sector are mandated to implement mental health workplace policies and programs through the comprehensive and ever-evolving guidelines by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). What else can companies do to champion mental health and wellness at work? Little things make a huge difference, and MakatiMed suggests implementing these five small but significant changes:

Make counseling accessible. “Oftentimes, people want to express what’s troubling them but are wary about confiding in a colleague or don’t have the funds to see a specialist,” shares Dr. Jurilla. “Get a life coach or organizational psychologist on board so staffers know there’s a professional who can help them deal with their mental health concerns objectively and free from judgment.” 

Promote flexible work schedules. If possible, let them continue a work-from-home setup with an option to work at the office. “Such arrangements have been known to lower stress and make employees more productive,” suggests Dr. Jurilla. “You take away the tiring commute, giving them the freedom to work wherever best suits them. This allows for work-life balance. Injecting ‘me’ time in between banging out reports or meeting a client on Zoom can refresh the mind and spirit.”

Create quiet spaces. “Convert an extra room in the office into a meditation or quiet corner. Hire a yoga or tai-chi instructor to hold one-hour classes for the staff (a video session works too!). The silence and slow, gentle movements will surely calm frayed nerves and clear an anxious mind,” Dr. Jurilla points out. 

Stay away after office hours. If you get the urge to text, call, or email an employee after she or he has gone home for the day, the weekend, or on leave—stop yourself, stresses Dr. Jurilla. “These people already gave most of their hours and efforts to their jobs. Respect their personal time and let them enjoy their time away from work.” 

Be open. How do you know if your employees are truly happy with their jobs? Ask them “Perhaps someone is saddled with too much work, or another feels underutilized,” says Dr. Jurilla. “By consulting your team, addressing their concerns, and involving them in the decision-making process, you’ll make them feel relevant. Heard. Like they matter. And that’s the first step to promoting mental wellness at work.”

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email mmc@makatimed.net.ph, or visit www.makatimed.net.ph. Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.