All over the world, many people are struggling with their mental health. Lockdown and isolation have plunged many already suffering from depression and anxiety further into the vicious cycle of negative emotions. Whilst many would seek out therapy, such as from the Honey Lake Christian mental health facilities many more are scared to go outside, even if such facilities had robust precautions in place to protect them from the virus.
To help Filipinos overcome the pandemic’s challenges, the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications championed mental health initiatives to support and help promote the need for mental wellness.
“In PLDT and Smart, we cultivate a culture of empathy that enables our employees to find comfort, especially during these trying times. The pandemic has caused so many uncertainties in people’s lives, and we want to ensure our employees that they have the much-needed support to help them cope through the new normal,” said PLDT Group chief people officer Gina Ordoñez.
Providing mental health support
Within PLDT and Smart, over 16,800 employees advocated for mental health by supporting the internal campaign, Mind Your Health. It is a program that aims to drive awareness of the importance of mental wellness, especially during these difficult times.
As part of the initiative, PLDT and Smart mounted a webinar series that aimed to break the stigma on mental health in the workplace. Sessions and live talks featured mental health experts as they shared their insights on how best to address mental well-being issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Under the Mind Your Health program, nine e-Learning modules were also launched for employees to easily access during their free time. Engaging around 11,900 participants, the topics related to dealing with unexpected change, stress management, and managing anxiety were the ones that had some of the highest responses from employees.
Being the employees’ first line of support, PLDT and Smart executives also have specific modules and sessions to help them understand the important role they play in promoting their teams’ mental well-being.
PLDT and Smart ensure that employees experiencing mental health issues find support and treatment interventions to help them cope and heal. Counseling and consultations with accredited healthcare professionals through its medical services team were made available for the employees.
A 360-degree wellness approach
To ensure its employees’ holistic well-being, PLDT and Smart also launched the Wellness Revolution, an employee engagement program that focuses on wellness using a 360-degree approach. The program encompasses all aspects of wellness, including physical, mental, financial, and spiritual.
Some of the Wellness Revolution program initiatives include #WorkOutFromAnywhere, #SportsAnywhere, PLDT-Smart Plant Project, and ONE Esports League.
Eric Hio, a senior business analyst from Smart, serves as the president of Smart eSports Club, a gamers guild. As he finds a way to cope with the new normal, Hio tries to maintain a work-life balance. In partnership with People Group’s Employee Relations team, Hio said that the guild conducted and participated in the PLDT-Smart ONE eSports League (PSONE), an online eSports tournament of Mobile Legends.
“This activity has proven to me that despite anything that happened and is happening, we can still choose to do things that we love regardless of the limitations,” Hio said.
Amid the pandemic, Ode Pangilinan has found hope as he started a new chapter in his life as both a husband and a father. Pangilinan works under the PLDT Enterprise as a relationship manager executive. He is also the organization head for PLDT Steps, a dance club within the company.
“We think of different ways to help boost employee well-being. We conduct virtual dance classes, Zumba sessions, and group workouts,” Pangilinan said.
These sessions led by PLDT Steps are also participated in by Paula Reyes, a senior network engineer from Transport Network Provisioning and Facility, and Reymond Alberto, an IS Security Section supervisor from the Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) Risk Management Department.
“These programs by Wellness Revolution help us become physically fit at the same time, and serve as a stress outlet that helps improve our mental wellness,” Alberto said.
According to Reyes, she has also participated in other wellness programs such as the webinars on mental awareness and financial topics. “I am thankful that these talks are available to us employees; it feels good to continue to learn and be aware more of various things/topics other than just work,” Reyes said.
Meanwhile, Oliver Briones, a network specialist from Technology Group, Network Planning and Engineering, said that the #WorkOutFromAnywhere program helps him create his own exercise routine.
“Seeing everyone do the same thing as I helps me feel relaxed and enhances my mental well-being amid the pandemic. I also enjoyed the seminars about mental health offered by PLDT and Smart. These help us cope well amid this difficult time,” Briones said.
Over 68,000 reached for Better Today
Better Today, a community platform created by PLDT and Smart hosted a four-part storytelling series anchored on mental wellness. It ran through all Fridays of October as an extended celebration of the World Mental Health Day last October 10.
With over 68,000 views, the four-part series called Better Today Conversations featured changemakers like Senator Risa Hontiveros; social media sensation and TV host Macoy Dubs; TV personality and empowered woman Gretchen Ho; content creator and youth ambassador Richard Juan; athletes Alyssa Valdez and Kiefer Ravena; e-sports professional player Haze; content creator Ali Sangalang of Linya-Linya; journalist Ruth Navarra-Mayo; style magazine editor Kate Paras; Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and Blue Tree Foundation Founder Kim Jong-ki; mental youth group Silakbo PH; and youth leaders Tasha and Bella Tanjutco of Kids for Kids PH.
Better Today Conversations promotes mental wellness by telling stories anchored on one’s passions, strengthening mental resilience, promoting an empathic culture, and finding hope amid dark times.
To watch the previous episodes of Better Today Conversations and join the community conversations on change-making, follow Better Today PH on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @bettertodayph.
Find a safe space to talk. If you’re experiencing mental health issues, you may contact the following hotlines: National Center for Mental Health at 989-(USAP)8727 and the HOPE Line Philippines at 09188730-(HOPE)4673 and (02) 8804-(HOPE)4673.