Support groups–where members can talk about similar concerns without being judged, blamed, stigmatized, or isolated–play an important role in the well-being of women in the workplace, said Dr. Gia Grace B. Sison, an occupational medicine and mental health expert.
“During this time, it is crucial to create an accepting environment,” said Dr. Sison, at an International Women’s Month event organized by business process solutions provider Telus International Philippines (TIP). “Understanding and empathizing with what women like you may be going through contributes to you feeling lighter and supported. This can already spark the meaningful connections that people crave as we have to be socially distant for now.”
Women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of depression, according to the US National Center for Health Statistics in September 2020. The factors that affect women’s mental health include gender-based economic imbalance (such as the glass ceiling, or the intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions) and an imbalance of reproductive or domestic work distribution.
“A support group is not there to solve problems, but to encourage members to own their narratives and veer away from the victim side,” Dr. Sison said. “I cannot [emphasize enough] the need of support groups for females, because their concerns are different from males.”
Effective support groups have ground rules, she added, such as beginning and ending meetings on time, and respecting everyone’s privacy. “Back it up with company policy so there’s an anchor,” she said.
TIP, for example, created a resource group to support the professional and personal development of its female team members. Called Connections Women’s Network, the group conducts wellness workshops on topics such as breast cancer awareness, domestic violence, and family budgeting.
“The best way to be of support is to listen,” Dr. Sison said at the virtual event. “Avoid comparing your journey to others. We journey in different ways.” — Patricia B. Mirasol