Gold eggs and mental health

/ 04:20 AM February 21, 2020

In a recently published survey by LinkedIn, the Philippines ranked third for the most confident workers in achieving success, right after India and Indonesia. It seems that we, Filipino workers, are highly optimistic about the probability of earning success sooner or later in our professional careers.

We also ranked fifth for being optimistic about opportunities, ranking high with other developing markets such as India and China. Ironically, the lowest-ranking countries in this regard were the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, and Japan. I guess it comes with being a developing economy. We tend to look brightly toward that huge room for growth, and hopeful in achieving that potential when the time comes.


I think of this as I come home exhausted from work on a rainy evening. I am never home early, as most of us at work leave late, too (leaving work before sundown is rare). Earlier that day, we were abuzz about the health issues some workmates had been facing. Some were minor but others were alarming. The doctor’s orders were urgent and similar—get some serious rest. It shouldn’t be a surprise. We ought to recognize our limits and pause to take a break. Why wait for a doctor to tell us what to do?

It would be almost impossible to find a person not exhausted by work. We all had, at one point, felt the burnout, which last year, was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a valid diagnosis. The WHO defined burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”


Last Feb. 11, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has released Department Order No. 208-20 making it mandatory for the private sector to impose a mental health policy and program in workplaces. Additionally, DOLE expounded that the policy shall “raise awareness, prevent stigma and discrimination, provide support” and that it shall also “promote workers’ well-being toward healthy and productive lives.”

This mandate couldn’t be more timely following the results of the Savvy Sleeper study (https://savvysleeper.org/cities-with-highest-burnout/) published by Forbes last month. The study ranked 69 cities according to their levels of burnout based on such factors as mental health disorders and prevalence, and hours of sleep. Chicago and New York ranked 12th and 17th, respectively. Manila was among the top five cities where burnout occurs together with Tokyo, Mumbai, Seoul and Istanbul. What an exhausting list to top!

As a new generation enters the workforce, there is also the realization that the industry must also adapt what universities have long embraced—that we may not be as emotionally prepared and resilient for the demands of work. Consequently, we experience this burnout earlier and faster.

“The youngest adults in the workforce today, those 18 to 30 years old, are particularly affected by mental health challenges and are also the least prepared to deal with them,” Barbara Harvey wrote in the Harvard Business Review. “Companies can and should step up to help them.”

But mental health issues in the workplace are not generational issues as absolutely anybody may be challenged on an emotional or psychological level at any point in their lives. It is a leap forward that we get to address this reality on a political level, however. We must take the same strides on a social level, where mental health challenges are still viewed as a sign of weakness, or worse, a lack of faith.

I remember Stephen Covey’s anecdote in his classic “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that teaches to balance the results we seek and the assets that generate those results. ”The balance between the golden egg and the health and welfare of the goose,” wrote Covey, “is often a difficult judgment call.”



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TAGS: Department of Labor and Employment, LinkedIn, mental health policy, Mumbai, Seoul and Istanbul, Tokyo, World Health Organization
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