This Mental Health Org is Offering Free Services to Retrenched Workers

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Thousands if not millions have lost or might soon lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic, creating an economic and social problem for Filipinos. A deeper look into the numbers and statistics will tell you a story of greater struggle—the emotional and mental toll layoffs have on retrenched workers.

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Despite how it might feel, losing your job is not a failure or shameful. And neither are the mental effects of such an ordeal. Mental health carries an undeniable stigma in the Philippines, and sometimes it’s a challenge to find someone willing to listen to your struggle. Even more so when psychological help comes with a steep price tag.

This is where MindNation comes in, an organization formed in 2019 that’s offering free mental heath care to retrenched workers from July 18 to August 18.

Prior to the pandemic, MindNation focused on giving its partner organizations and companies accessible and affordable mental health care. This includes psychologist consultations, 24/7 Talk to a Friend service, to company culture programs that aim to create safe spaces in companies.


But then the pandemic happened, and the organization moved to do something for the many who could no longer afford mental health care--the recently unemployed. They’ve supported the mental health of more than a thousand people so far.

“The challenge with promoting mental healthcare is the stigma—many tend to put little to no value on their emotional wellbeing because of other seemingly “more important” factors and regard their mental health as a fleeting feeling they can disregard,” shared Cat Triviño, chief marketing officer of MindNation. “What people have to understand that mental health is physical health and it affects every decision we make, our productivity, and the relationships we have with everyone around us.”

The people behind MindNation understand the struggle that comes with mental health care. One of the founders actively lobbied for the mental health law, while another is a suicide survivor who continues to battle bipolar disorder. The organization began when two friends reconnected after sharing the same sentiments regarding the inaccessibility and exclusivity of mental health care in the Philippines: frustration.

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Thankfully, retrenched workers dealing with the harsh toll of unemployment no longer have to feel such frustration as MindNation’s initiative will help guide them through their situation. They no longer have to go through it alone.

“It is normal to experience distress after a loss of a job that you depended on and put so much heart and value to, and it’s the same response we have with changing circumstances” said Triviño.

“Some may experience guilt or blame, and even hopelessness and embarrassment. Anxiety, fear of the uncertain, and panic are also common. When you’re hit with a curveball like that, you feel as if you have little to no control over your circumstances—especially during this time where you’re not even allowed to get out there and look for new opportunities or at least an outlet.”

The pandemic is already causing increased anxiety in everyone, and to fight the threat of COVID-19, as well as unemployment, is enough to bring anyone down, which is why organizations like MindNation are crucial in lifting everyone up.


Filipinos are not the most open society when it comes to mental health issues, but now is better than never to change the culture toward mental health.

“Mental health illness is the third most prevalent form of morbidity in the country, as identified by the National Statistics Office. The Filipino youth is also in the midst of a mental health crisis with severe cases of depression and anxiety,” said Triviño.

“It’s also difficult and expensive to access a professional or mental health services (on top of underinvestment from the government). And further, there is also the stigma on mental health that has been shown to be a barrier to seeking help, because of the cultural drive to “save face” and put up a strong front.

“While there have been strides in the development of the Mental Health Act that seeks to provide legal framework for comprehensive mental health care publicly and within organizations, we still have a long way to go. It’s great to have more people talking about mental health, and more brands and leaders giving employees the access and opportunity to seek help.

“We, as a society, must work towards normalizing seeking help, tuning in to our core, and learning that our emotional well-being is connected with everything we do and how well we do them.”

Also read: Capitalism and COVID-19: Mental Health in a Time of Lockdown

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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