In recent years, Mental Well-being has been gaining the recognition and importance that it deserves. Especially during this new normal, it is reassuring to see that companies and government institutions have been pushing for the normalization and acceptance that mental well-being and mental health are contributing factors to a person and employees productivity and overall happiness.
During Sprout’s latest episode of HR Experts Season 6, the Department of Labor & Employment’s Bureau of Working Conditions defines Mental Well-being as ”a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
If you are a business owner or HR Professional reading this, your next question would probably be what is DOLE Department Order No. 208, Series of 2020 or Guidelines for the Implementation of Mental Health Workplace Policies and Programs for the Private Sector?
THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT
The beginnings of these policies stems from Republic Act No. 11036 (An Act Establishing a National Mental Health Policy for the Purpose of Enhancing the Delivery of Integrated Mental Health Services, Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Persons Utilizing Psychiatric, Neurologic, Psychosocial Health Services, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for other Purposes) otherwise known as the Mental Health Act.
Enacted on June 20, 2018, the much needed Mental Health Act took effect on July 5, 2018 while it’s Implementing Rules & Regulations (IRR) became effective on February 19, 2019.
Some of the most important features of the Mental Health Act include:
- Making treatment available at all levels of the national health system.
- The total integration of mental health service into the Philippines general healthcare system.
- The requirement for government agencies to spread awareness in schools, workplaces and communities.
- The requirement for mental health professionals, workers and other service providers to undergo capacity building, reorientation and training.
- The creation of the Philippine Council for Mental Health
- Providing penalties for violations which includes imprisonment, fines, or both based on the final judgement of a legal court.
Keeping this in mind, it is also important to note that DOLE has also implemented Department Order 208-20 which includes the issuance of appropriate guidelines in the development and implementation of workplace policies & programs and providing assistance to employers in the development and promotion of mental health programs in the workplace including access to mental health services.
COMPLIANCE FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION
As private companies, it is important to ensure that your organization practices compliance with the existing rules and regulations.
Here are a some of the first steps that you can take to ensure that your workplace is able to look after your employees’ mental well-being:
- Raise awareness and correct stigma/discrimination: As an organization, it is important for your Human Resources and Legal departments to organize awareness drives through trainings or seminars on a regular basis. Including a non-discrimination policy in your employee handbooks is a great way to start a culture with no stigma within your company.
- Identify and provide support for individuals at risk: Your leaders, managers, or HR professionals should actively conduct regular 1 on 1 sessions within their teams to check on the emotional and mental well-being of each employee. We will never be able to tell the state of our employees through meetings but giving them time and a safe space to be vulnerable and honest is a great way to start. Monitoring employee engagement and through HRIS tools like Sprout Pulse is also a great indicator. An employee that is mentally well is always an engaged and productive employee.
- Facilitate access to treatment and psychosocial support: As a company, it is important to have benefits that look after your employee's mental well-being just as much as their physical health. Sprout Wellness makes mediation and counseling sessions easily accessible for our employees. Whether you have existing mental well-being benefits in place or are still looking at possible options, being open and supportive as an organization, especially if you have employees that are actively looking for support when it comes to their mental health needs, is a big step towards compliance.
- Promote workers’ well-being towards healthy and productive lives: Here at Sprout, we are firm believers of work-life integration. Being productive at work does not mean that you have to put your life on pause, especially now that most of us are working from home. Gone are the days of the traditional 9 to 5. As decision makers and HR leaders within your organization, it is important to remember that your employees are human before resources and have different needs that you should be able to support.
- Provide capacity building, orientation, and training for Mental Health Advocates within the organization: It is important to have certified Mental Health advocates within your organization. Most of us may have the notion that these advocates have to be licensed professionals but fret not! Your Mental Health advocates may be a part of your team already. DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions, during the latest episode of Sprout HR Experts, affirms that your HR Professionals and Leaders may also be your certified Mental Health Advocates as long as they are able to attend relevant orientations and regular training to ensure that they are equipped with up to date knowledge.
Mental Health Workplace Policy and Program in the private sector shall be properly coordinated, monitored regularly, reviewed and updated as necessary. Assistance may be sought from the following government institutions: DOLE, DOH and organizations rendering mental health services such as PAP, PPA, PNA, PGCA, and PMHA.
RESOURCES FOR BUSINESS OWNERS, MANAGERS, & HR PROFESSIONALS:
Here are a few resources you should read on to further understand the laws and ensure that the programs and policies within your organization are compliant:
- Republic Act No. 11036 (The Mental Health Law) and its IRR
- Magna Carta for Persons with Disability (as amended by RA 10524)
- Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law
- The Safe Spaces Act
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. If you or anyone you know are in a mental health crisis, reach out to the National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline as soon as possible through these numbers:
Luzon-wide Toll-free Landline: 1553
Globe/TM: 0917 899 USAP (8727) / 0966 351 4518
Smart/Sun/TNT: 0908 639 2672