Safeguarding mental health has become a priority for Philippine travel and tourism stakeholders who are more susceptible to depression, stress, and anxiety brought about by the consequences of the prolonged lockdown that is now entering its 19th month.
The extent of their suffering is gleaned from the recent Nikkei Asia’s Covid-19 Recovery Index (as of September 30), which ranks the Philippines as the worst among 121 countries in responding to the pandemic. Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Resilience Ranking classifies the Philippines as the worst place to be among 53 countries in containing the pandemic.
Addressing mental health concerns, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and stakeholders’ online meeting every Wednesday has evolved “into a period for retooling and relearning,” pep talks and motivational talks, said chief operating officer Anthonette Velasco-Allones.
The simple act of guesting clinical psychologist Joanna Herrera, who discussed mental health and mindfulness last Wednesday, inspires and “keeps hope alive in the hearts of our stakeholders, including tour operators and travel agents”.
In the predominantly Catholic country where people find solace in spirituality, TPB’s wellness and work-life integration programme for its staff has online fellowship “to keep the team connected” that includes a virtual holy Mass every first Friday of the month and bible studies, Velasco-Allones said.
Many staff find therapeutic the Think Talk (a variant of Tik Tok) that refreshes skills on writing, productivity, powerpoint presentation, Zoom set up, and work from home set up. The most recent was a mindfulness session led by a yogi.
It is understood that the Department of Tourism will be adopting most of the mental health safeguards being practised by TPB.
Cleofe Albiso, group general manager of Megaworld Hotels, shared that they have a Circle of Happiness programme with several projects and activities including webinars for all associates “that allows us to love ourselves, our families, our community and God is at the centre of it”.
Albiso cited the importance of mental health and well-being as most of their properties are fully operational. Ten hotel general managers will attend the MICECON conference in Boracay late this month, for work and leisure for their general well-being.
PATA Philippines Chapter, one of the first that addressed mental health issues for its members and stakeholders, once invited a priest to talk about keeping the faith, as well as celebrities who survived arduous life challenges.