The employees of the Colorado construction company, the probation department, the local school district, the financial services organization, and the Colorado Children’s Hospital have very different missions, but have one key in common: their bosses are investing in the mental health of workers.
Nick Williams, Director of Operations at Absolute Caulking and Waterproofing, said: “It’s really gratifying to be able to help so many people by owning and operating a business and being part of a solution that really helps people.” “…some employees said This is the first time they feel that their mental health is under control.”
The McLing-based construction company is one of dozens of employers in Colorado that prioritize the mental health of workers using a new online program designed by local experts.
this Health, Work and Environment Center Collaborating with the University of Colorado at the Colorado School of Public Health Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center Development and launch Workplace Mental Health Module, An online toolkit for employers who want to raise awareness and improve their employees’ mental health.
Since the pandemic, almost half of American workers (46%) have admitted to having a mental health problem. According to a survey StanCorp Financial Group Inc. surveyed more than 1,400 American workers. The suicide rate among the working-age population in the United States increased by 34% from 2000 to 2016. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Liliana Tenney, deputy director of outreach at the CU Anschutz Center for Health, Work and Environment, said that although worker safety may be reminiscent of hard hats and neon yellow vests, if left unaddressed, employees’ mental health can also cause harm to the workplace. .
“These organizations participating in the new module recognize this,” Tenney said. “They want to figure out how to train their managers for these types of conversations. Team members asked them how to better support caregivers, how to support quarantined employees working remotely, and how to reduce burnout.
“It is helpful to put many of these issues first and center so that employers can use this opportunity to advance and formulate new policies and plans in these institutions.”
The workplace mental health module is part of the Colorado School of Public Health’s accreditation and counseling program called Health linkDavid Shapiro, project manager of CU Anschutz Health, Work and Environment Center, said that through a survey of superiors, it helps organizations evaluate their existing mental health support, and then provides management consulting and advice meetings, and makes recommendations to best help employees.
The survey covers workplace culture, employee welfare, training and education, and fairness and accessibility. From there, organization leaders will obtain a report card based on their findings and consult with experts to determine how to move forward.
The service provides Three plans The annual cost ranges from US$180 to US$450, depending on the number of inquiries the company receives.
“Science shows that employers who support mental health can increase job satisfaction, retention, and recruit excellent talent,” Tanney said. “The main benefit is around employee satisfaction and morale.”
“Drain staff at an alarming rate”
Williams likened the mental health problems that plagued the construction industry to an epidemic.
According to a survey, the suicide rate of male construction workers is among the highest among American workers. CDC’s pre-pandemic research.
“This is a big problem,” Williams said. “Many of them are related to depression, anxiety and drug abuse, so in order to protect and safeguard the future of our industry, we need collective and individual action. We need passion and resources behind this…because we are losing people at an alarming rate .”
The drug abuse rate among construction workers is almost twice the national average. According to data from the United States, approximately 15% of American construction workers suffer from substance abuse disorders, compared to 8.6% of the general adult population. National Drug Abuse Survey Conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
“We talked a lot about the awareness of opioids, because in construction, the work we do suffers much more damage, so… opioids are introduced through workers’ compensation cases, so we use alternatives Therapies, such as physical therapy, massage, dry acupuncture, and non-opioid pain relievers, and try to develop opioid-free plans,” Williams said.
On the advice of a mental health module expert, Williams conducted an anonymous survey of his company’s construction employees, encouraging them to share the resources they would like to see. Responses include helping relieve anxiety, depression, addiction and substance abuse.
Williams said employees can get help through their health insurance, but they can also choose to get care through a third-party alternative offered to them.
Shapiro said that having leaders who discuss and prioritize mental health issues is a key indicator of whether an organization is doing well in this area.
“If you have a leader who is committed to talking about mental health, this is an area that is at the forefront because they understand it and understand its importance,” Shapiro said.
Emily Sharpe, director of health plans for the American Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, said that this financial services company has provided health plans for more than 60 years and found that the mental health module in Colorado improves workers’ well-being Another step.
During COVID-19, TIAA employees received more and more calls from customers asking about family members who had retirement accounts in the association and died of the coronavirus. In response, TIAA’s health plan developed grievance support services for colleagues who handle these calls.
“I think in the past 18 months, we must have received more requests from colleagues that we need to discuss this issue more,” Sharp said. “They are very grateful to them for working for a company that really awakens people’s awareness of these topics.”
Other local industries that use the mental health module include the Probation Department of the 18th Judicial District, Ames Community College, Colorado Children’s Hospital, Encore Electric, City of Westminster, Aurora Chamber of Commerce and many local school districts.
The importance of uncomfortable conversation
Among these school districts, there is Greeley-Evans School District 6. The leaders of this school district hope to help teachers solve their mental health needs so that they can better serve Colorado students. The school district’s Nutrition Services Program Kara Sample, the assistant director of the company, said the plan is responsible for its health plan. .
“We encourage our teachers to take care of themselves before they take care of students,” Sample said. “Mental health is a big part of it.”
After consulting the mental health module, Sample and regional health coordinator Rachel Hurshman said that they want to work hard to ensure that employees, including managers and supervisors, can easily discuss mental health issues through training programs and more open conversations.
“These can be difficult conversations,” Sample said. “This is a topic that people don’t always want to talk about with their hearts open. This creates obstacles. Also, time is our most precious resource. Like any organization, we are all busy. It may be difficult to spend time focusing on Things like mental health, but this topic is really worth it. It’s hard work, but it’s vital for our employees.”