Bill seeks mental health promotion on worksites


The proposed Mental Wellness Leave Act in the House of Representatives includes provisions requiring employers to carry out programs that promote workers’ mental health.

MANILA — House Bill 6253, also known as the proposed Mental Wellness Leave Act, granting mental wellness leave to workers, has been filed to be included in the existing mandatory vacation and sick leaves.

Its author, Representative Alfred de los Santos of Ang Probinsyano party-list, says the additional leave may be used to consult with mental health professionals, undergo therapy, or take a break from daily stress.

A rights-based mental bill protecting workers that avail of psychiatric, neurological, and psychological help from stigma and discrimination, the Philippine Mental Health Law, which took effect on 05 July 2018, needs to be extended in the scope of coverage, says the Ang Probinsyano representative.

He says the law should include a prevention program that would address the rising depressive disorders and suicide rates caused by the pandemic.

A Department of Health data shows 17 million Filipinos suffer from depression. The National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline says it received more than 11,000 calls in 2020, a figure 247 percent higher from 3,000 in 2019.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our workers were struggling from combined pressures brought by their jobs, families, and even social media. The pandemic exacerbated the burden with fear and anxiety. This is very evident among our frontliners and essential workers,” says Representative De los Santos.

“Such programs will ease the stress among our workers. Employers stand to gain from this as workers receiving such aid can become more productive,” he points out.

The Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) supports the proposal, with Stella Zipangan-Banawis, ECC executive director, citing the proposed measure as essential and compensable. (BG/Headline PH)


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