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Manila – Despite the on-going pandemic, the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS) continues with its commitment to advocate for mental health and aptly starts it in its turf.

Members of the ILS Gender and Development (GAD) Committee led an online event titled, “Mental Health and Transformative Ecosystem Change Workshop” via Zoom last December 18. The event aimed to shed light on the mental health factors and challenges that the Institute’s employees have faced during the pandemic, with the aim of crafting a tailored mental health policy for ILS promoting a safer and more productive working environment.

Mental health advocate Dr. RJ Naguit, who facilitated the workshop, conducted a Mental Health and Psychosocial Needs Assessment for all ILS employees. Responses from the ILS Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Needs Sensing Form were collated and from which a Mental Health and Psychosocial Services Mapping was done to identify the various mental health needs of ILS employees and how the organization can best address them.

Some mental health factors that were highlighted include: Workload distribution and harmonization of tasks, concretizing work-life balance, setting clear organizational vision and prioritization, open communication and openness to criticism, developing positive relationships among colleagues and between managers and employees, and difficulty with current events, and family concerns.

Co-facilitating the workshop was Ms. Santos-Lyons, the National Programme Officer at the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in the Philippines, and presided over the session on “2020 Check: Drawing Our Transformative Change Roles in a Year of Crisis.”

The workshop was intended to make ILS employees aware of their challenges and triumphs for the year and highlight their individual importance and contributions to the organization. During the workshop, all employees were grouped with random co-workers into various breakout rooms where they were tasked to share and discuss the challenges that they have experienced and how they were able cope. This part of the workshop also made use of the Jamboard app by Google to enable participants to creatively show, via a digital scrapbook five blessings that they have received for the year, and allowed participants to share with the group their insights based on the visuals that they digitally created.

Recommended action plans to address various mental health factors were laid out and these will serve as the foundation for the crafting of an inclusive mental health policy of the Institute. The success of the workshop as a productive mental health activity has also encouraged the ILS GAD to consider institutionalizing it as a yearly activity.