Taking care of our overall health has always been a priority even before the COVID-19 pandemic. We exercise, eat healthy foods, and live healthily. However, our concerns should not only focus on the physical aspect. Mental health has been a concern during this lockdown while we are isolated and/or separated from our family and peers. It reminds us that we are all vulnerable to mental health diseases as we are vulnerable to the coronavirus.
The main public health concern today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is the elevated rates of stress and anxiety. This eventually leads to higher levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviors. It is also increased by the negative stigma that surrounds people diagnosed with mental illnesses. People would not want to be associated with mental health disorders thinking that it is irrelevant or “just being sad”.
Regular and office workers are familiar with common mental health troubles. Remote workers are no exemption to this. They face isolation and burnout from having to work and stay at home. Isolation prevents us from having a sense of belongingness in the community that we are used to feeling. This results in highly acquiring chronic loneliness. Burnouts are common even in a typical workplace. The line between work and personal life can be easily blurred out at home. It is good to remember to set boundaries and create schedules to help you be on track throughout the workday.
On-site workers face the same problems at an amplified level. Business processes and outsourcing companies have workers on-site 24/7. Therefore, it is important to implement programs for employees to avoid these things. This not only helps their well-being but also the future of the company. Well-functioning people are more effective and attentive. Making them produce better output amidst this pandemic.
In the Philippines, it is recognized by the Department of Health as a serious health condition in 2019. This is being backed up by a governing law, RA 11036, that enhances the delivery of integrated mental health services all throughout the country. There are also available suicide and helplines for anyone who needs it. The department also promotes community-based mental health programs and the requirement of guidance counselors in all schools.
According to the data given by the Philippine Mental Health Association Inc. (PMHA), 85 percent of their received calls are seeking mental health assistance. Out of the 20-25 calls per day, 40 percent are from those who suffer from anxiety, and 30 percent from depressive disorders. Sixty percent of callers are between the range of 20-30 years old and are mostly from BPO companies in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Preventive measures and solutions should not be only be focused on one facet health. Selectivity only spurs new problems that can be harder to identify and cure. Isolation does not entirely mean that you are alone. People are willing to listen in and help you through this. Asking help is one step closer to feeling and getting better. We and the rest world will eventually get better and come back stronger physically and mentally.