Improving workplace mental health and well-being

WASHINGTON – On Oct. 20, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and the department’s Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams welcomed a group of corporate employers and disability advocacy leaders recognized for their innovative approaches to fostering mental health-friendly workplaces.

Held in concert with the department’s recognition of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the “NDEAM Employer Chat on Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being” emphasized the importance of supporting the needs of individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace as the nation experiences a mental health crisis driven, in part, by the pandemic. Panelists shared strategies for promoting best practices for workplace mental health initiatives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported heightened levels of stress and anxiety, as well as significant increases in the rates of depression and drug overdose. People coping with the effects of Long COVID are also reporting its impact on their mental health.

“I sought treatment for alcoholism in my 20s, and I was able to do that because of my job. I had access to the care I needed through my union and being able to get back to work played a big role in my recovery. So I know that a mental-health-friendly work environment can make all the difference,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “But for recovery to happen, the workplace culture needs to be supportive. As Secretary of Labor, I want all workers with mental health conditions to have the support they need to work and thrive.”

The event included EY Americas’ Chief Well-Being Officer Frank Giampietro; the U.S. Congress’ Senior Employee Assistance Counselor Jon Murphy; Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation’s Inaugural Director Katherine Pérez; and Google’s Chief Medical Officer for Global Employee Health Sohini Stone.

The event was the latest in a number of efforts the department has undertaken to educate employers and employees about best practices for promoting mental health-friendly workplaces. Key related resources include the Mental Health Toolkit/4 A’s of a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace employer framework and the “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do?”  launched earlier in 2022.

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