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Employee Wellness Featured

Top 5 Qualities Of A Good Mentor

A mentor is an experienced or trusted advisor who provides their mentee with the tools, guidance, support, and feedback they need to thrive in their career. A good mentor enhances an employee’s skills, cultivates leaders who can help the company further advance, and drives positive company culture. 

If you want to develop an effective mentoring program in your organization, partner with a mental health and well-being provider to avail of services that build happier, healthier, more empathic teams. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about our CareNow Plan© for teams.

Good mentors come in all ages, genders, and even educational attainments. “You can be a good mentor as long as you are dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned in to a mentee’s needs,” says career and business advisor Grace De Castro of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions. 

It is not just a mentee who benefits from the guidance of a good mentor; mentors themselves experience the satisfaction that comes from giving back and having a sense of belonging. “A mentor can find a lot of growth if they are in a group that is supportive and safe, in a community that makes them feel heard and values their life experiences,” shares Grace. 

Mentors themselves experience the satisfaction that comes from giving back and having a sense of belonging.

Grace De Castro of V+A Consulting

If you feel you are ready to take on the role of nurturing someone’s career growth, here are the qualities that you need to be a good mentor:

  1. Optimism. A good mentor constantly uplifts their mentee.  “Make the person feel  that you believe in their potential, that you hear them, and are willing to listen to them,” says Grace.
  2. Teachability. While there are courses and certificate programs for aspiring mentors, these are not requirements to be good in the role. “There are many things you can do on your own to learn to be a good mentor, such as following thought leaders and statesmen on social media so you learn about different perspectives,” advises Grace. “And read! There are so many books that can help you become a better mentor, and don’t limit yourself to non-fiction, self-help, or personal development books. Fiction gives you a different view of how people are and can be great conversation starters. Lastly, immerse yourself with what’s happening outside; have a genuine interest in others.”
  3. An open mind. “A good mentor always comes prepared to be surprised,” advises Grace. “We are all human, which means that most of the time there are deep-seated reasons for mentoring that involve personal issues. So I always make sure I provide a safe space for my mentees if they want to talk to me about deeper matters.”
  4. A real desire to help but no desire to control the outcome. “Sometimes, people don’t necessarily need advice from a mentor; they just need someone to listen to them,” says Grace. “And when you provide a safe space for people to use you as a sounding board, you end up improving more than just careers.”
  5. Trust.  A good mentor never gossips about their clients. “I have lost potential clients because they want to know who else I am working with but I value confidentiality,” says Grace. “A good mentor-mentee relationship involves a trust component that both work very hard to strengthen over time.”
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Featured Mental Health 101

Hello, D.E.A.R: A Communication Technique For Setting Boundaries

We know how important setting boundaries are to our mental health and well-being. However, it can be hard to communicate these boundaries or call out those who cross them. We fear that insisting on setting boundaries may make us seem difficult, unfriendly, or even troublesome.

Fortunately, the D.E.A.R conversation technique – developed by Dialectical Behaviour Therapist Dr Marsha Linehan in the 1990s – can be used to effectively remind people about your need for setting boundaries without hurting their feelings. MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo explains below:

D is for DESCRIBE

“Describe the situation where your boundaries were crossed, sticking to facts and neutral terms,” says Maria. This means when someone oversteps your physical boundaries for example, you say something like “I notice that you like to hug me when you see me in the morning” instead of inserting an opinion such as “You’re so inconsiderate of my personal space.” Try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt; they may be wholly unaware of your boundaries.

E is for EXPRESS

When people upset your boundaries, stick to “I” statements when calling them out. An example would be “I feel uncomfortable when you do this” or “I don’t feel happy when you do that.” Do not label, i.e. “Calling me after office hours is so rude” or question the other person’s intentions, i.e. “You keep interrupting me during work, do you want me to lose my job?” “These will only hurt the person or make them defensive, and you will lose any chance of an amicable resolution,” reminds Maria.

When people upset your boundaries, stick to “I” statements when calling them out.

MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo

A is for ASSERT

“Specifically tell them what you want to happen in the future, such as ‘I would appreciate it if you would greet me in the morning with a high-five instead of a hug,’” suggests Maria.  “Or ‘I prefer that you send work-related messages between 8AM to 5PM only.’ Do not hem and haw, say “Maybe” or “Sorry,” or be vague, as in “I’m sorry, but maybe you could do something else to greet me in the morning?” This can lead to confusion, give the impression that your boundaries are negotiable, and encourage new expectations and demands among those around you.

R is for REINFORCE

“End the conversation on a gracious note,” Maria says. Statements like “I appreciate you hearing me out,” or “Thank you for respecting my boundaries,” will soothe any feelings that may have been hurt or offended and increase the chances of an amicable resolution. 

If despite your best efforts you find it is difficult to set boundaries with someone, you have two choices:

  • Limit contact by physically avoiding the other person or asking someone else to run interference for you. “But in cases of sexual harasment or physical abuse, you have every right to report the threatening behavior to the authorities right away,” Maria cautions.
  • Go no-contact. This can be asking to be transferred to another team or leaving the company altogether, unfriending/unfollowing the person on social media, or going as far as to tell friends and family that you want to minimize contact with the person.

When you are firm in communicating and setting your boundaries, you show that you value yourself, your needs, and your feelings more than the thoughts and opinions of others.

Book the MindNation Self-Love Pack© to get THREE 1-hour consultations with a psychologist who can help you with setting boundaries, living intentionally, and having better relationships with the ones who matter. This plan is available for free when your organization avails of the CareNow Plan© for teams. Visit www.mindnation.com to learn more.

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Featured

Mental Health for Beginners

While understanding and awareness about mental health and its issues has increased in the recent years, we are sure there are still some topics that need clarification.

MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to; just message bit.ly/mn-chat to book a session.

Riyan Portuguez RPsy RPm (also known as Your Millennial Psychologist on Facebook) answers the 10 most common questions about mental health and wellness below:

  1. What is mental health?

Riyan: Mental health is the science of self-love. It’s about honoring your emotions and boundaries, and allowing yourself to receive proper and evidence-based care so that you attain personal growth, maximize productivity, and make significant contributions to your community.

  1. What causes mental health problems?

Riyan: Mental health is a complicated matter. It varies from person to person and occurs from the interaction of the following factors:

  1. Neuro-biological (i.e. chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic predispositions to certain disorders that may be triggered by stress or trauma)
  1. Socio-cultural (i.e. a dysfunctional family life, substance abuse)
  1. Psychological (i.e. severe psychological trauma, neglect)
  1. How can I tell if someone I love has a mental health concern?

Riyan: If your loved one exhibits the following warning signs for two weeks or more, you are right to be concerned:

  1. Significant changes in their behavior, such as extreme angry outbursts or bouts of sadness
  2. Withdrawal from friends and other normal activities
  3. No longer pays attention to grooming and/or personal hygiene
  4. Confused thinking, inability to concentrate, lapses at work
  5. Significant weight gain or loss, loss of appetite or overeating
  6. Talks about doing harm to themselves or to others.

When you are in doubt about your friend’s condition, always seek the assistance of a mental health professional. 

  1. How can I tell if I have a mental health problem?

Riyan: The answer is the same as the above, although it can be harder to recognize the warning signs if you are talking about yourself. This is especially true if you are the type of person who is frequently perceived by others as “strong,” or if you are the one always providing help to others. Listen to friends and family and keep an open mind if they express concern about the state of your mental health. 

  1. I feel strong, negative emotions like anger and fear sometimes; does this mean I need to see a therapist as soon as possible?

Riyan: Not right away. Emotions, even the negative ones, are a normal part of life, so go ahead and allow yourself to feel them and to lose yourself in them. Suppressing or dismissing these emotions because they are “bad” will only lead to emotional or psychological disorders. But if you experience negative emotions recurring too often or last more than two weeks, or you feel they are getting stronger or more out of control, then seek help. 

  1. What is the difference between sadness and depression?

Riyan: Sadness is an emotion. It is a response to a specific situation — something happened that made you sad. But you are still able to function (i.e. work, do homework) and experience other emotions (i.e. you feel happy when friends comfort you). It usually goes away after a few days.

On the other hand, depression is a mental illness. It is pervasive sadness — it affects all other areas of your life, like your work and relationships with others. There is also no known or specific trigger — you don’t even know why you feel sad anymore — and it is usually accompanied by feelings of apathy and numbness. 

  1. What is the difference between fear and anxiety?

Riyan: Fear is an emotion caused by something that is in the present and it is specific — there is an imminent situation that causes you to feel afraid, but you are still able to do normal things like eat, sleep, or work. Once the source of fear passes, you don’t think about it anymore. 

Anxiety is a mental disorder — it is an intense level of fear or worry about something that will occur in the future. You anticipate that something terrible will happen. People with anxiety tend to exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Unhelpful thinking patterns — i.e. “What if–?” scenarios, “Should” and “Must” statements
  2. Magnification — the source of fear is insignificant but in the person’s mind, it is catastrophic
  3. Overgeneralization — the problem attaches itself to all other parts of their lives (i.e. “I did poorly at work” becomes “I am such a loser”)
  4. Physical symptoms such as hyperventilating and heart palpitations

People experiencing normal fear will also have negative thoughts, but after awhile they will follow these up with questions or narratives that will challenge those negative beliefs and cultivate optimism. For example, someone whose boss gives them a difficult task will worry about doing well, but after some time will figure out strategies to cope. And once the difficult task has been completed, they move on to the next assignment. 

  1. What is the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, and therapist? How do I know which is the right one for me?

Riyan: A psychiatrist is permitted to prescribe medicine, so their focus is on treating the neurobiological aspect of mental disorders. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, and will focus on the patient’s sociocultural factors before diagnosing the illness. They are also therapists because they are the ones who create the interventions or treatment plans for patients. 

Psychologists and psychiatrists work together. If psychologists feel that the physical symptoms of a patient are strong, they may refer the person to a psychiatrist first to lessen the symptoms, then ask him or her to come back to continue with other forms of therapy.  

  1. Is there a way I can prevent mental health problems?

Riyan: Practice healthy lifestyle and self-care habits like eating the proper diet, frequently exercising, and getting enough sleep. Get help whenever you feel overwhelmed by your problems, beginning with talking to friends and family. Don’t be afraid to consult a mental health professional if the need calls for it. 

  1. Is there a cure for mental health problems?

Riyan: If by “cure” you mean it will disappear forever, then the answer is “no.” However, mental health problems are treatable. There are many people who recover, but they need to continuously work with psychologists or monitor their lifestyle to reduce incidences of relapse. 

And always remember that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is similar to having eyesight problems — there is no cure for nearsightedness, but you can wear corrective lenses and carry on normally for the rest of your life. 

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Featured Work in the New Normal

5 Ways To Ease Employees Back To The Workplace

With the MindNation CareNow Plan©, team members have access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches whenever they are feeling stressed and anxious. Visit www.mindnation.com to learn more.

Are you asking your team to report back to their offices? While some employees are excited to go back to the office, others are struggling with varying degrees of anxiety. They may be reluctant to leave their family after being in close proximity with them for more than two years, afraid of leaving the safety of home and catching the COVID-19 virus, or anxious over adjusting to a new work schedule and routine. 

If you are tasked with nudging people to return to work,  business coach and consultant Grace De Castro of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions, shares some things you can do to ease their anxieties and make the transition easier: 

  1. Ensure workplace safety. The first and most important thing to do is conduct a review of the physical space to make sure it follows minimum public health standards and safety protocols. Is it well-ventilated? Can social distancing be followed? What is the procedure if someone comes to work with symptoms? And if your employees do get sick with COVID-19, is treatment covered by their medical insurance and how much time will they be given to recover? Then, once these are in place, proceed to #2.
  2. Personally communicate these to your team. “Don’t just hand out memos or shoot out an email,” Grace advises. “Instead, hold a virtual meeting to inform staff about everything that the company is doing to make the site physically safe, and even what the expectations are in terms of schedule and responsibilities.” By adding this personal touch, employees will feel more assured and less anxious.
  3. Bring them back slowly. Having your employees come back all at once will only cause confusion and increase anxiety. Instead, schedule their return in batches to give them the time and space to adjust to the physical workplace and new procedures. Then, once everyone is settled in, don’t forget to do #4. 
  4. Hold frequent one-on-ones or team meetings. “The purpose of these check-ins are two-fold,” says Grace. “The first is to enable those who are anxious and struggling to feel that they are being heard and validated. The second is for you to communicate and reiterate the company’s vision, expectations, and business direction.” This ensures that the entire team is on the same page, and roles and responsibilities are made clear. 
  5. Show them that you are also taking care of yourself. “As a leader, you are probably putting up a brave face and hiding your own fears and anxieties,” Grace points out. “But shielding your emotions will only make your employees feel as if they are the only ones with problems and more alone.” So if you are feeling anxious or stressed, for example, let your team see you taking a mental health break or advise them that you will be talking to a mental health professional. “This will make them see you as human and will further normalize the conversation about mental health and well-being in the workplace,” she adds.

“If you are feeling anxious or stressed, for example, let your team see you taking a mental health break or advise them that you will be talking to a mental health professional.”

Grace De Castro, Business Coach And Consultant

As a manager, it’s important to remember that your team members may be going through something related to the pandemic that you are not aware of. Asking them to return to work should be accompanied with compassion and open conversation.

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Featured

Chris Nelson Of BCCP: Why We Should Invest In Well-being

As Executive Director and Trustee of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP), Chris Nelson is responsible for developing the business and social interests of 300-plus member organizations and 600-plus individual members in the country.

    “It’s an understatement to say it’s been a challenging time,” Chris admits, when asked how the chamber is faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have had members whose businesses have been closed for 18 months, as well as individuals who are unable to come back into the country. Additionally, we also have corporate members who are now struggling to pay their membership fees.”

Communication and collaboration

Chris and BCCP do their best to support these struggling members through constant communication, not just between themselves but also with relevant third parties. “We constantly check in with our members to see how we can assist and what support they need. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, we were in constant contact with the Philippine Department of Trade And Industry, relaying our members’ inputs and wishes so that whenever new lockdown guidelines were being drafted by the government, their points of view would be considered,” he explains. 

    And for those members who convey that they can really no longer continue their membership with BCCP for whatever reason, Chris makes sure not to burn bridges. “We always thank them for their past support and tell them that they are always welcome to come back when circumstances change,” he says.

Be forward-thinking
Another thing Chris does to ensure that collaboration and communication continue despite the pandemic is to stay active. “With the challenges of the pandemic, it would be easy to just not do anything at all,” he says. “But if that’s the case, we might as well stop operating. So we adopted a forward-thinking mindset. For example, whatever events we did before the pandemic, we tried to continue doing them, albeit through a virtual set-up. These include everything from training webinars to a Christmas party! It wasn’t the kind of Christmas party that we would have liked to have, but we still ran it, and more importantly we got many people to participate.”

Partners in well-being
BCCP and MindNation co-hosts webinars related to mental health and well-being for their network. As a Gold Member of the BCCP, MindNation provides the chamber with expert advice and customized solutions on how their other members can build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. “MindNation webinars are always appreciated by our members,” Chris affirms. Also known as Company Culture Drive© Talks, these virtual trainings are conducted for organizations to increase awareness on mental health topics and stop the stigma surrounding those with mental health concerns.

    “People have been facing so many challenges because of the pandemic — from losing their jobs to social isolation — that I believe well-being is now more important than ever. People need the support that MindNation provides because they’re either on their own or they’re in very difficult circumstances and don’t know what to do,” Chris adds.

    Furthermore, Chris believes that business organizations need to prioritize mental health well-being in the workplace because of the long-term ramifications of the pandemic. “The social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue for a lot longer, and will lead to fundamental changes in people’s lives,” he stresses. “What was a challenge in the beginning of March 2020 is not the same as the challenges of September 2021, and will continue to alter in the months and years to come. Employees will require a lot of help and support, so what MindNation does is important and will continue to be important.”

Do you want to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams? Partner with MindNation to avail of customized solutions that can address your employees’ holistic well-being needs. Visit www.mindnation.com now!

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Featured

Piril Yagli Of MindNation: Bringing Mental Health In The Workplace Front And Center

Piril Yagli started her career in Insights and Analytics 15 years ago at multinational corporation Procter & Gamble, where she conducted consumer research on the preferences, attitudes, motivations, and buying behavior of people buying fast-moving consumer goods.

In 2020, she joined MindNation as its Chief Insights & Analytics Officer, this time surveying the preferences, attitudes, and motivations of clients towards work and their mental health. Thanks to the data that she and her team are able to gather, MindNation is able to customize its Employee Assistance Program to meet the specific needs of an employee in an organization, a rarity in the mental health care industry where most EAPs only offer fixed packages. 

“I believe that a true mental health and well-being program is and should go beyond just providing a standard one-size-fits-all service,” Piril explains. This is because the people who comprise an organization have different needs and challenges, depending on their age, gender, educational attainment, or even socioeconomic background. 

“In a company, you have all kinds of employees — from white collar to blue collar, from members of GenZ to GenX, all  with completely different challenges that need to be addressed,” she points out. “For instance, our data shows that young, less experienced employees in a business process outsourcing company would like to learn about curbing loneliness during the lockdown or avoiding burnout. On the other hand, more seasoned employees are more interested in finding out how they can work better with younger team members or how they can provide better guidance or support. A one-size-fits all approach cannot fully cover all these needs.”


The importance of Pulse Surveys

MindNation gets its data through Pulse Surveys, biannual online surveys that are conducted the moment the client signs up with the company. “Through Pulse Surveys, we try to extract three types of information. The first is how employees feel about their mental health and well-being status, and if they feel satisfied with their company’s efforts,” Piril enumerates. “Next is to establish a benchmark so that we can track progress and revise the program accordingly. Lastly, we want to figure out the key stressors that employees are facing and what remedies they are after so that we can address the challenges directly.”

The MindNation Pulse Survey differs from the surveys of other EAP companies in two ways: first of all, MindNation created a proprietary Company WellBeing Score©,  a single sum generated from the different variables in the survey. “We use this score to track, measure, and compare one company to another,” Piril explains.

Which brings us to the second unique feature of MindNation Pulse Surveys — comparisons. “MindNation is able to compare data and scores of different companies because of our extensive database, which has responses from over 15,000 employees and growing, ” Piril proudly shares. “This allows us to tell a company ‘This is the state of your team’s well-being versus those of others in the same industry,’ and then follow-up with suggestions on how they can do better.” 


Wake-up call

That being said, business leaders should not feel disheartened or question their leadership skills if their companies get a low score in the Pulse Surveys. “A big portion of employees in every company, across all industries, are facing mental health and well-being challenges during this pandemic,” Piril points out. “Business leaders should not take alarming Pulse Survey results as a poor reflection of themselves. Instead, they should treat it as a wake-up call, as an opportunity to immediately correct ‘mistakes’ and provide resources so employees can have better well-being.” 

For Piril, what is important is that leaders be open, listen, understand and act in urgency to meet the needs of the employees, whether it’s providing access to psychologists and WellBeing Coaches or tailoring webinars to topics that interest their team members.

“From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals.

They especially need to be proactive in addressing the needs of employees who are suicidal, of which there is an increasing number. This is according to the analysis of suicidal thinking employees in the MindNation Pulse Survey database. “From our analysis, we found out that on average 8% of the employee population in the Philippines has suicidal or self-harmful thoughts,” Piril reveals. “Assuming that there are 41 million active employees in the Philippines, this means that around 3.3 million employees need immediate help.” 

Importance of suicide prevention policies in the workplace 

Employers need to provide help because suicidal employees are the ones facing more productivity loss, taking more sick leaves, and thinking about quitting the company more than the average employee. So by prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their organization, leaders are not only saving 8% of their workforce, they are also improving productivity, and positively impacting the bottom line. 

Organizations can do this by paying attention to and making mental health services a basic benefit for all employees, stopping stigma in the workplace by cultivating a safe space for mental health discussions, and ensuring that each employee has someone to talk to curb their feelings of loneliness especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.

Download the MindNation Suicide In the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now to learn not only about suicide prevention, but also enhance your capacities to support employees who may be struggling with varying mental health issues and suicidal ideation. http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021

How is your team doing lately? Message [email protected] to find out how we can set up a Pulse Survey for your organization.

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Featured

Auie Macapaz Of AVON: Normalizing Mental Health Today For A Better Tomorrow

As Talent and Organizational Development Manager of direct selling beauty company Avon Cosmetics Inc. (ACI) in the Philippines, Laurice “Auie” Macapaz oversees the mental health and welfare of close to 300 employees. Not an easy task during the COVID-19 pandemic as team members are grappling with fatigue, anxieties about job security and income, and other mental health challenges.

But the realization that the company needed the services of a mental health and well-being company started back in 2018, when two ACI associates were diagnosed with clinical depression. “Back then mental health programs were not yet mainstream for organizations, so it was only when we were faced with this particular challenge that we saw how lacking our mental health coverage was,” Auie relates. Because the costs of psychiatric consultations and medicines were not included in their then-healthcare provider’s plan, the two Avon associates had a hard time managing their symptoms. 

“While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

Laurice “Auie” Macapaz, AVON Talent and Organizational Development Manager

Additionally, even the direct manager of the two employees was at a loss on how to provide care. “None of us knew how to properly give support because we lacked awareness and training about mental health,” she shares. “While we tried our very best and worked closely with our company doctor, the fact remained that we didn’t have anything in our program that could specifically address the needs of associates with mental health conditions.”

In the end, the two associates opted to resign from the company because their psychiatrist told them that it would be better for their health if they just took time off from work. “If we had the services of a professional to help them navigate what they were going through, they would probably have lasted longer in  the organization, or at the very least, would have been able to manage their condition better,” Auie laments.

This where MindNation came in
MindNation fulfilled Auie’s wish for ACI to have a well-being program that is focused on holistic health and customized for each employee’s needs. The partnership recently celebrated its first anniversary, and proved that achieving good workplace mental health is a marathon, not a sprint. 

 “It was a slow start in the beginning, very few of our associates were availing of the 24/7 teletherapy services,” Auie admits. “This is because many of our associates come from a generation where if you tell them you are depressed or anxious, they would respond with ‘Oh, just pray about it,’ or ‘You’ll feel happier if we go out for a meal.’ They believe that you should only talk to a psychologist if things are already dire.”

Auie and the rest of ACI’s Human Resources department worked to change this mindset by exerting efforts to normalize talking about mental health and therapy during monthly check-in sessions. “I would nonchalantly tell the associates ‘Oh, I have had four sessions with a MindNation WellBeing Coach already and this is what I learned,’” she says. “I even shared with them that my teenage son has also been seeing a WellBeing Coach and it’s helped him so much this way and that.” Because of these initiatives by HR, bookings for sessions started to increase.

Another obstacle that Auie and MindNation encountered was ACI’s low open rate for the weekly newsletters (WellBeing Boosts) that MindNation sends to all its client-partners. “In the beginning, only 10% of the recipients were reading those emails,”  Auie reveals. She admits that this is because the associates are so swamped with work and correspondence on a daily basis that if the email does not come directly from their boss, they will not bother to open it. 

To solve this problem, Auie and MindNation decided that instead of sending emails to each and every employee, MindNation would send the materials to Auie, who in turn would upload them on the Facebook group page of Avon Philippines’ associates. “We have about 250 members in that Facebook group, and for the past few months I have been getting 160 views each upload. So from a 10% open rate,it’s now at more than 60%, which is not bad,” she proudly shares. 

But more than these numbers, Auie is happy that there is now a change in attitude of the employees about mental health. “I see it when our associates attend the MindNation Company Culture Drive Talks every month,” she shares. “Before, they would just sit there and listen; now they are interacting with the speaker more. Before, when the speaker would start off by asking them how they are feeling, they would just say ‘I am fine’ or ‘I am okay;’ but now they are more authentic in their feelings, they are divulging more emotions and acknowledging how they are really feeling.” 

Special group session

Auie is also thankful to MindNation for instances when the company went above and beyond what was required of it. “Last month, one our Business Development Managers (BDM) shared during a MindNation Group Session that one of the members of her sales team committed suicide, and that she was feeling guilty and sad about it,” she shares. “The WellBeing Coach facilitating the session picked up on that and a few days later, MindNation reached out to us and offered a free session for that BDM and other associates who knew that person who passed, to help them cope and make sense of their emotions. I think that was a great thing, it was more than what MindNation signed up for, and I really appreciated that.” 

Future plans
There is still a long way to go. “My wish is that those who had teletherapy sessions would share their experience with others, so that those who are shy or hesitant will also get help,” Auie says.

Plans are also underway to train select ACI team members to become wellbeing champions in the organization. “I am so excited for those people to get trained in mental health first-aid and become the go-to people of our associates if they have questions about the different mental health services that MindNation is offering, so that they can get the help they need,” she adds.

Ultimately, Auie’s dream is for Avon representatives to become multipliers of mental health and well-being. “I want to normalize mental health and well-being so that we can become each other’s active supporter in dealing with mental health challenges,” she says. “At ACI, we have almost a million people in our sales force — many of them women — and all our field associates have access to them. Our company mission is to empower women, so if we could teach these women and mothers how they can take care of themselves and others better by normalizing the conversation about mental health, then the world will be a better place.”

Auie highly recommends that other companies partner with a mental health and well-being company as a way of supporting their HR team. “Times are hard now and we cannot do it alone,” she says. “I cannot imagine being in this pandemic, taking care of all my people, and going through this roller coaster of emotions without the assistance of MindNation.”

MindNation can help you build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.mindnation.com to know more. 

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Featured

Raymund Sison Of Propel: Nurturing Well-being And Creativity To Make Ideas That Matter

Advertising agencies can be fun and exciting places to work for, but the industry is also known for being highly fast -paced, extremely competitive, and its staff constantly under intense pressure to come up with great ideas on a regular basis. 


But Raymund Sison wanted a different kind of work culture. The Creative Chief of independent digital agency Propel Manila, together with other members of the company’s leadership team, constantly strives to create an organization that puts their people’s well-being over profit. 

And their efforts are paying off. Today, Propel Manila is not only a highly successful creative agency — it counts as its clients fast-food giant Jollibee and luxury brand Kiehl’s — it is locally and internationally recognized for its advocacy works such as Recreate Pride 2020, Complex Emojis (this one in partnership with MindNation; more on that later), Pride @ Tech, and Love Versus Hate.

“I believe creatives and communications professionals have a duty to offer our best and brightest ideas to help solve the world’s most pressing problems,” Raymund says. “We should use our creativity to create ideas that truly matter to the community.”

Keeping creative

“Creativity is not just about doing design or writing; you can be creative in every little thing you do at your office, even if you’re an accounting firm or an engineering company,” Raymund points out. “It’s about finding more innovative ways to do your accounting in the middle of the pandemic, or using digital means to make your engineering even more robust and secure.”

When team members are creative, they solve problems faster and easier than ever before, discover new ideas that will keep clients interested and engaged, and help businesses adapt, innovate, and thrive — — all necessary during these trying times when tried-and-tested business methods are no longer working.

If your team is struggling to be creative because of the pandemic, here are five tips from Raymund on how to get their brains fired up and thriving: 

1. Prioritize the team’s well-being. “When people are well, they do well; and when  they do well, the business does well,” he points out. “At Propel, we believe that the best kind of talent development is human development, so we created programs that will help our team grow professionally, mentally, and emotionally.”

To start, Propel has a Mind Matters Program, a mental health and well-being policy that includes free mental health cards and mental check-ups for staff, weekly talks and forums on mental health, and the designation of the last Wednesday of every month as Mind Day, a no-work day. 

Raymund also encourages his team to take a rest whenever they need it. “I always encourage my people to please tell me how I can help them be better, be creative, or be a better human being,” he says. “If they are stressed, then I will give them the time to breathe.”

2. Promote inclusivity. Safe spaces boost creativity because when a person feels safe, they can be more open about their thoughts and ideas. “Openness is the foundation of creative thinking,” Raymund points out. 

Propel does this by making sure their office is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s rights. “Our bathrooms at the office are gender neutral; we also have a Pride at Propel group in the office for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees,” he shares. “Recently, there were talks in our industry about harassment, so right away we made sure to reifnorce our anti-harassment and anti-discrimination polcies to make sure that we have a safe environment for everyone.

 3. Support diversity. Raymund is proud to say that half of Propel’s 70-plus team is female, while 19% are members of the LGBTQ+ community. “We like to keep our talents as diverse as possible because when you put them together and make them work on one goal, that is where brilliance happens,” he says.

4. Practice servant-leadership. “To quote from Simon Sinek, ‘Leadership is not being in charge, it’s taking care of those in our charge,’” Raymond declares. “My leadership style is very much a combination of a kuya (big bother) and barkada (friend); there’s a lot of care but I’ll also be the first one to call you out if needed. I believe that calling out is a way of showing care, because you are telling your team the truth on how they can be better.”

5. Walk the talk. Propel espouses purposiveness — how can the team use their creativity to help the community? “And because mental health is one of our main advocacies, we feel it’s important that we spread the word about the importance of well-being in the workplace and the community,” Raymund says. “This is where our partnership with MindNation comes in.”

Last July 2020, the two companies worked together to create the world’s first ever Complex Emojis, free social media stickers and gifs which users can post to communicate their hard-to-understand and complicated emotions. The ad for this was named a finalist in the 2021 Ad Stars, the world’s only international advertising festival which combines creativity with cutting-edge technology, and also in the  Asia Pacific Tambuli Awards, the creative show that celebrates creativity with positive world impact. 


In August of that same year, Propel Manila Culture Head Mau Valenzuela joined MindNation CEO Kana Takahasi and Head of Communications and Content Cat Trivino for a Mental Health Matters Livestream via Facebook, where they discussed mental health in the advertising industry, and how leaders can have better mental health care practices in the workplace. 


Lastly, to mark Pride Month last June 2021, Propel partnered with MindNation for the latter’s toolkit on supporting LGBTQ well-being at work, which is a guide for business leaders on how they can make their workplaces safe and inclusive for their queer employees.

“I want my team to continue to create more ideas that matter to the world,” Raymond says. “Creativity is such a superpower and I want to use it as a force for good, to make people better, to change behaviors, and make the world a little better than it was before. Right now is a pivotal time in our society. More than ever, we need to come up with insightful, innovative, and empathetic solutions that can help address humanity’s needs. For me, the pandemic is not an excuse to not have great ideas; there’s no better time to be creative than today.”

Are you passionate about workplace well-being? Partner with us to build a world where mental health is valued, accepted, and supported. Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more! 

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5 Etiquette Rules For Interacting With Persons With Disabilities

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Despite this large number, there are still many able-bodied people who do not know how to properly act towards persons with disabilities (PWDs). They stare, use the wrong words to refer to the disabled person, or even make insensitive jokes. “Most of the time, these are not done intentionally,” says Ed Geronia, a writer, technology entrepreneur, and who has a mobility impairment due to polio. “People just don’t know any better because there is still a lack of awareness about the situation of PWDs, they only know about disabilities from what they see in the media.”

““When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’”

Ed Geronia, Writer, Technology Entrepreneur

It’s important that able-bodied people learn how to interact with PWDs properly so that they will not inadvertently hurt or offend them. Treating someone differently based on their appearance or a certain characteristic is a form of discrimination, and targets of discrimination often suffer effects ranging from low self-esteem to a higher risk of developing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. “At my age, I can brush off jokes and not be as easily offended, but it can be harder for younger PWDs,” points out Ed. “They internalize these hurtful words and actions and those make it harder for them to adapt to society.” 

If a loved one with a disability is struggling with mental health challenges because of the way they are treated by others, our psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mn-chat.

Ed shares some tips below for properly interacting with people with disabilities.

  1. Never assume what a PWD can or cannot do. “Don’t think that someone who cannot go up or down a flight of stairs,” says Ed. “I can be just as adept as an able-bodied person as long as I have my cane and there are handrails. Similarly, don’t assume that all deaf people cannot communicate properly; they can, it’s just their mode of communication is different from ours.”

    So if a loved one or colleague is a PWD, learn as much as you can about their disability by joining online resource groups or communities. “When you understand their situation more, you will realize that many of your assumptions are unfounded,” he adds.
  2. Be patient. It takes persons with disabilities a longer time to complete tasks compared to able-bodied people. “The world in general is not very PWD-friendly,” Ed shares. For example, not all countries have audible signal lights to aid the sight-impaired, or wide sidewalks for those who need to use wheelchairs. So if, for example, you are accompanying a person with a  mobility impairment up a flight of stairs, or standing in line at the automated teller machine behind a person with a sight impairment, don’t rush them. Instead, ask what you can do to assist.
  3. Always ask before you help. On more than one occasion, Ed has experienced helpful strangers snatching his cane away from him in their eagerness to assist when they encounter him going up or down the stairs. “I know they’re just trying to help, but when they take my cane away out of the blue, it throws me off-balance and I either trip or fall,” he shares. “I usually have to tell them ‘It’s okay, I can manage.’” 

Another example — when you see someone in a wheelchair going up a ramp and they are steadily ascending, just let them be; don’t suddenly grab the handlebars and start pushing, you will just jolt the person and impact their balance. 

So before you help someone, ask first if they would require assistance, and don’t be offended if your offer is declined.“Many of us are just doing things at our own pace and even though it may seem to you that we are struggling, we are fine and would rather complete the task on our own,” Ed adds.  

  1. Avoid inappropriate language. Commonly accepted terminology includes “people/persons with disabilities” and “a person with a visual/hearing/physical/speech/cognitive impairment.” On the other hand, offensive terms include: wheelchair-bound (use wheelchair-user), victim of, suffers from, retarded, deformed, or crippled. “When in doubt, it’s always okay to ask a PWD ‘What should I call you?’ or ‘What’s the proper way to refer to you?’” Ed assures.

For this same reason, do not describe a person as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to the conversation. Do not say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the deaf lawyer?” Instead, just say “Do you remember my friend Robert, the lawyer?” 

  1. Educate yourself. By learning about the different forms of disabilities, you also learn how you can bring about the necessary changes needed to improve how you interact with them. For those who want to get started, Ed recommends the following books and movies:
  • The Theory of Everything (film). Tells the struggle that world-renowned genius Stephen Hawking went through while dealing with his motor-neurone disease.
  • Crip Camp (film). A critically-acclaimed documentary film about a camp designed for teens with disabilities and how these campers became disability rights activists. 
  • Sound of Metal (film). About a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing.
  • Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law (book). A memoir by Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School.
  • Criptionary (book). A humorous collection that brings attention to the everyday struggles and obstacles faced by persons with disabilities 
  • I See Things Differently: A First Look At Autism (book). Written for kids, it will help them understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it.

Persons with disabilities are human too. By acknowledging their differences as you would acknowledge anyone else’s uniqueness, you show them the respect and empathy that they deserve and avoid unconsciously offending or hurting them.

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Take A Step Back: 4 Situations When It’s Best To Be Silent

There are many situations where speaking up and expressing our thoughts and feelings is the best thing we can do for ourselves and for others. However, there are also situations in which it’s better that we step back and just listen. 

Learning to identify these situations is valuable because it can make or break relationships and affect how conflicts are resolved. “There are times when speaking up will only make things worse,” agrees psychologist Riyan Portguez. “So always consider the context, mood, and environment before you say something.” 

“There are times when speaking up will only make things worse. So always consider the context, mood, and environment before you say anything.”

Riyan Portuguez, Psychologist

Riyan shares some situations when it’s best to keep your peace. 

  1. When you are physically unable to think clearly.

This happens when you are tired, drunk, or even hangry. “Couples always receive the advice that ‘You should never go to bed without fixing the problem,’ but I don’t agree with that statement all the time,” Riyan says. “This is because if you are tired, you will be more irritable, impatient, and have difficulty regulating your emotions. These increase the likelihood that you will say something that you will regret later.”

So rest, sleep on it, and discuss the conflict when you are in a better physical state.

  1. When you are feeling emotional. 

While there is anger that can and should be expressed right away regardless of the circumstances  — when you are being violated, for example — you should also be mindful of the times when you know that your rage will be uncontrollable and hurtful to others. “During these situations, it’s better to take a powerful pause,” Riyan advises. “Tell the other person that ‘I don’t think I can handle this situation well right now, I need some time off, we’ll discuss this when I’m in a better state of mind.’” This at least informs the other person that you are not brushing off their concerns and are still willing to resolve the conflict. 

Now, if the other person still demands a response from you, you need to put your foot down and stand your ground. “If they are being insistent, it only means that they are also experiencing heightened emotions; you cannot expect them to think clearly either,” Riyan explains. “So tell them firmly but politely that you do not want to engage with them when they are like that, that they also need to cool off if they want to have a productive conversation.”

  1. When you don’t know the whole story

If you are asked to weigh in on an issue that you are unfamiliar with, speculations on your part can do more harm than good if the issue is about something that will likely have a big impact on another person. For example, if someone is asking your opinion about which vaccine brand works best against COVID-19 but you are not a medical doctor, admit that your knowledge is limited instead of sharing rumors or unverified information. 

  1. When you are explicitly requested not to speak.

This can happen when someone needs to have a difficult conversation with you, or when they just need a listening ear as they unburden themselves. In such cases, resist the impulse to defend yourself or offer advice; instead just practice active listening. 

Being silent is not a sign of weakness; learning to control your reactions and identifying your battles takes maturity. “Before you say something, always go back to your intentions,” Riyan suggests. “Are you responding out of fear, insecurity, or hate? Or is it because of concern or love? Your answer will help determine when you should speak up and when you should stay quiet.”

MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 if you want to improve your communication skills, manage your emotions, or improve your relationships with loved ones or co-workers. Book a session now at https://bit.ly/mn-chat