This paper examines the progress of the ITBPO industry in advancing mental health in their workplaces as envisaged under Republic Act 11036. Using an online survey of HR officers and/or management representatives complemented by key informant interviews, the study looked into the extent and nature of mental health policies, programs, and services in companies; the challenges they faced in developing and implementing those interventions, especially amid the pandemic; and the opportunities for structural reforms around mental health. Seventy-eight (78) respondents from various subsectors and mega-cities joined the survey. The results revealed several findings. First, respondents observed among their employees a reinforcing triad of chronic stress (70.5%), sleeping difficulties (56.4%), and reduced work performance (50%). Despite this, a gap was noted between the magnitude of those concerns and the extent of actual conditions with diagnosis reported by employees. Next, companies appear to be on hugely different levels of institutionalization of mental health, with only 10 percent having an entirely separate policy. Without a solid foundation, this brings the quality of interventions into question. Indeed, most interventions were limited to the area of mental health promotion, while prevention and treatment significantly lag. Besides capacity issues, the required cost tends to primarily explain such trends, supported by another finding showing three in four companies are still without full financing scheme. Finally, companies perceive the high cost of services, exclusionary practices by HMO providers, poor public investment in health, and stigma and discrimination to be the topmost structural factors to probably hinder the headway they made so far. Given those findings, the paper recommends the following: for employers to conduct mental health and psychosocial needs assessment among their employees, for the DOLE to provide needs-based technical assistance to ITBPO companies, and for the national government to boost investment in mental health services.
Title: Between Resilience and Transformation: Mental Health Policies, Interventions, and Challenges in the ITBPO Sector through the Covid-19 Crisis
Researchers: Ronell J. Delerio & Frances Camille G. Dumalaog