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Unmasking the Mental Health Pandemic in the Philippine Workforce

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Insights from PVP's 2020 - 2023 Employee Well-being and Engagement Survey in the Philippines (Part 1)

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped our lives, triggering not only a health crisis but also a significant impact on mental health. The isolation, health concerns, and uncertainties led to heightened levels of anxiety and loneliness. As we step into 2023, we ask: Have we made progress in addressing these mental health challenges, or are they still lingering?

This post dives deep into the findings of PVP's comprehensive study, "The State of Employee Well-being and Engagement in the Philippines.” We surveyed 21,531 employees from our client database spanning 85 companies.

A quick snapshot:

Sample Size by Year: Though the distribution was somewhat skewed, we had over 7,299 respondents in 2020, 9,315 in 2021, and a combined total of 2,000+ for 2022 and 2023.

Industry Representation: The majority (66%) hailed from service companies, 18% from government sectors, and the rest (16%) from manufacturing industries.

Demographics: Most respondents were young, with Gen Y and Gen Z dominating. A staggering 74% were staff-level, with 25% in supervisory roles. Senior executives were just under 1%.

Our survey zoomed in on important mental health markers like stress, anxiety, and depression. From 2022 onwards, we added burnout to the mix. These indicators, combined with crucial HR metrics like engagement and job satisfaction, painted a vivid picture of the employee experience.

We used the DASS 21 scale - a trusted tool in the research world - to measure depression, anxiety, and stress levels. Respondents were categorized based on their scores, ranging from "normal" to "extremely severe.

In 2020, amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming 41% of respondents reported experiencing varying degrees of anxiety, ranging from mild to extremely severe. This equated to nearly two out of every five employees requiring professional assistance.

Surprisingly, rather than declining, the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased in 2021 and 2022, defying expectations. As we transitioned into the "new normal" in 2023, mental health figures appeared to revert to 2020 levels. This unexpected persistence of high anxiety and depression rates during the post-pandemic adjustment period raised questions about whether it might become the new standard.

Furthermore, it's noteworthy that stress levels remained consistently lower in comparison to anxiety and depression. This contradicted the common assumption that stress primarily drove these conditions. While statistically, no significant differences emerged when analyzing the data across the years, the descriptive data indicated an increase in anxiety and depression levels in 2021 and 2022.

In comparing data between the service and manufacturing sectors, a noteworthy divergence was observed. The manufacturing sector exhibited a decrease, with a lower base rate. Conversely, the service sector displayed a slightly higher baseline prevalence.

Remarkably, in 2023, a statistically significant increase was noted compared to the 2021 pandemic peak. Anxiety and depression levels in 2023 reached 57% and 50%, respectively. This implies that half of the service sector employees were experiencing critical levels of anxiety and depression, with stress levels elevated at 32%.

Several factors may explain the observed patterns:

  1. Transitional Stress: The significant societal shifts and changes in how we operate have caused transitional stress, impacting mental health profoundly.

  2. Job Demands: The service sector consistently faces higher job demands compared to manufacturing. Post-pandemic, these pressures to perform may have intensified, affecting employee well-being. People's perceptions of work-life balance and job demands may have evolved, impacting their stress tolerance.

  3. Economic Instability: Ongoing economic instability, including rising fuel and commodity prices, can affect individuals' psychological well-being, even if it's not new.

  4. Social Media: The negative impact of social media on mental health is well-documented. Increased usage and changing dynamics on these platforms may intensify these effects.

  5. Personal Life Stressors: Everyday personal stressors contribute to the overall burden on mental health.

In conclusion, the “mental health pandemic” continued to cast a shadow over our lives, demanding urgent attention from employers, policymakers, and individuals alike. As we navigate this new normal, it is crucial to prioritize mental health and well-being, destigmatize seeking help, and develop strategies to cope with the ongoing challenges. Only through collective awareness and action could we hope to mitigate the long-term effects of this silent crisis on our society.

Read the second part of this study here:

If you're interested on assessing the mental health of your employees, we're pleased to introduce our eWellnessMetre. You can easily reach out to us via email at or by calling us at +632-8404-9524 to understand how this tool works and the potential benefits it can bring to your organization.

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