Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Workplace Mental Health

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Workplace Mental Health

Research has shown that one in five Americans will face a mental health problem during their lifetime. We know that mental and physical health are strongly connected, but mental health is often overlooked. Many business leaders assume an employee’s mental health is none of their business. But an employee’s mental health status greatly affects their performance, as well as the company’s bottom line.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that mental illnesses and substance abuse issues cost employers between $78 and $105 billion each year. Reduced productivity, absenteeism, and increased healthcare costs are just a few of the ways mental illness cost employers money. In today’s fast-paced, high stress society, it makes sense to learn about mental health and begin to address it in the workplace. Promoting good mental health could be one of the best ways to improve an entire organization.

On May 16 from 8-9:30 a.m. a unique free program is being offered to the public at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe St. “Resilience: What Employers Need to Know About Mental Health in the Workplace” is presented by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, the City’s Department of Community and Health Services, the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria and Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center. A panel of four local experts will share information and experience about signs of depression and anxiety, effective clinical treatments, what your health insurance should cover, how colleagues can support a worker who may be struggling and what employers can do to help keep workers on the job. We will also highlight ready to use resources and model programs that can assist and inform the workplace. Program speakers include Darcy Gruttadaro JD, director, Center for Workplace Mental Health of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation; Rob Krupicka, owner, Sugar Shack and Captain Gregory’s, former member of the Alexandria City Council and the VIrginia State Assembly; Rhonda Williams LCSW, adult clinician DCHS; and Jessie Joachim CEAP, Inova Employee Assistance Program. This will be an interactive program with time allotted for discussion with attendees. Informal networking with coffee and donuts begins at 7:30 a.m.

Laurie Flynn

Chair, Partnership’s Mental Health Work Group