champion mental health advocacy through creative expression

PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have just launched Time Capsule Project, a virtual art festival on mental health and wellness under its Better Today program.

Through the virtual festival, the youth is encouraged to express themselves, by submitting entries in the form of drawings, paintings, poems or short stories. The top winners of Better Today’s Time Capsule Project will have the opportunity to receive from PLDT and Smart a matching donation, which they can then give to their chosen mental health organizations and advocacy groups.

The entries for the Time Capsule Project is anchored on four key mental health pillars and narrative namely, Passion and Purpose (which are things that inspire and keep us going); Resilience (things that push us to power through difficulties); Empathy (things that unite us and uplift the spirits of those in most need); and Hope (things that give light amid darkness).

As participants embark on self-reflection and create their own time capsules, they are also encouraged to dedicate matching art and thoughtful pieces for those in need within the larger community. These include the country’s health care workers who brave the frontlines and risk their lives every day in the performance of their duty to the country; vulnerable children who suffer abuse and are deprived of a happy childhood; and fellow Filipinos who struggle through lonely isolation and mental health issues due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

Better Today is PLDT and Smart’s collaborative platform for change making in the digital space. The program emphasizes the companies’ commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly UN SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being. The downloadable link for the tool kit and mechanics can be found in Better Today’s social media platforms. To know more about the Time Capsule Project and the details on how to join the art festival, please follow Better Today PH at (@bettertodayph) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Advocating mental wellness and resilience in the workplace

Mental health, just like one’s physical health, is important. Both are personal journeys that require room for growth and understanding – the ability to fully embrace oneself.

During the first-ever virtual Public Relations (PR Congress) by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP), a session featured Jane Fordham, who talked about the importance of mental health in the workplace.

Fordham, who founded her own consulting firm, underscored the importance of building an empathetic culture in the workplace, which starts by being kind to oneself. “We must not suffer alone. We are our own worst critics and it is important to be kind to ourselves. We must have room for acceptance and realism – the knowledge that we are living in unprecedented times,” Fordham said.

People’s lives have turned upside down because of the pandemic. According to Fordham, due that the global pandemic, people felt a certain amount of uncertainty, shock and anxiety because of the prolonged disruption. To Fordham, gaining control is important because it allows one to be able to create boundaries, build routines and find a lsense of normalcy amid the pandemic.

She also emphasized that similar to physical health, approaching one’s mental health requires a proactive mindset. “Just like exercising or training a muscle, our mental health needs to create a routine based on good habits, adopt lifestyle and working practices to optimize our well-being. These will make ourselves more resilient to challenges,” Fordham added.

Creating a safe space in the workplace

Fordham quoted Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson who described psychological safety as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”  This is key in building a workplace that is anchored on kindness, empathy and trust. Employees feel safe in their own place of work and they gain confidence in taking on interpersonal risks. This also helps a company to manage talent and optimize productivity.

This is the kind of culture that PLDT, the country’s largest integrated telco, and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, are promoting in the workplace. The companies have created programs to help employees strengthen their mental health and resilience, especially amid the pandemic.

The companies have launched the “Mind Your Health” campaign, a series of online talks that invite clinical experts and mental health advocates to talk about various mental health issues that range from dealing with mental illnesses and mental health advocacy campaigns.

PLDT and Smart also have online courses to help employees manage their mental well-being. Some of the online courses include topics on de-stressing, meditation and movement, stress management; workplace positivity; and resilience amid unexpected change.

To provide employees with access to mental health services, PLDT and Smart also partnered with professional counselors. Employees can book appointments online and seek treatment and counseling.