Suicidal thoughts on the rise among Philippine employees

Published September 25, 2021, 2:07 PM

by Marie Buenaventura

MindNation survey reveals that two out of every 25 employees are at risk of suicide

Last July, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported a 57 percent increase in the country’s suicide rate in 2020 compared to the preceding year. To find out how much suicidal ideation is affecting employees specifically, pioneer mental health and well-being company MindNation analyzed the results of 5,868 employees from their Pulse Survey database from September 2020 to June 2021 regarding their well-being.

Results revealed that eight percent of employees are having suicidal thoughts.

When further asked, the biggest reasons for suicidal thoughts were COVID-19 fears, personal matters, financial pressures, work pressure, and loneliness.

Employees who exhibit mental health concerns and suicidal ideation negatively affect company morale, productivity, and the bottom line. More than half (51percent) of suicidal employees say that they are unproductive up to 2.6 hours a day during their work shift. Meanwhile, almost half (42 percent) of suicidal employees say that they thought of quitting work due to their mental health problems. Lastly, 43 percent of employees with suicidal thoughts say it takes them longer to perform tasks, 40 percent say they make more mistakes, and 67 percent express difficulty concentrating. According to a separate report released by MindNation in early 2021, productivity loss due to mental health challenges can cost companies as much as ₱700,000 per 100 employees annually.

Business leaders need to take proactive steps to prevent suicide in the workplace because the stigma surrounding mental health and suicidal ideation can worsen the psychological well-being of affected employees and make them reluctant to seek help. In MindNation’s survey, only 12 percent of employees with mental health issues truthfully admitted to their managers that they are taking a sick leave for the same reason. The others stated that it was for a physical health problem, took it as part of their annual leave, or did not want to give a reason at all.

According to a separate report released by MindNation in early 2021, productivity loss due to mental health challenges can cost companies as much as ₱700,000 per 100 employees annually.

One effective way to address suicidal ideation and overall mental well-being concerns in the organization is to make professional help available and accessible to those who need it. More than one-third (35 percent) of employees with suicidal thoughts believe going to a professional would be best for them.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cost lives in more ways than just the virus itself, it has aggravated the symptoms of those who are already experiencing mental health challenges and heightened the risk for suicidal thoughts,” says MindNation CEO Kana Takahashi. “Creating a workplace culture that destigmatizes mental health, promotes holistic well-being, and provides appropriate support builds trust and engagement among employees. These in turn positively impact productivity and the company’s bottomline in the long run.”

To better support struggling employees, organizations must provide needs-based mental health benefits through an employee assistance program. This can be done by partnering with a mental health and well-being company that offers customized solutions for each employee and focuses on holistic health.

MindNation makes its holistic mental health program available and accessible to Filipinos online.

MindNation is a mental health and well-being company operating in Asia and the Middle East that partners with like-minded organizations to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. The MindNation CareNow Plan includes access to such services as 24/7 Critical Incident Support, by which MindNation care coordinators can book teletherapy sessions for employees within 15 minutes upon receiving the request; biannual Pulse Surveys to better understand the company culture’s strengths and challenges, evaluate which programs and policies work, and communicate to employees what actions are taken for workplace wellbeing; virtual trainings on mental health first aid, managing depression and suicide, and other mental health topics, conducted by top mental health experts and practitioners; group support sessions so employees can avail of peer support; 24/7 Care Hotline manned by staff trained in mental health first aid, so that employees can have someone to talk to any time.