The CEO’s Desk: Improve Workplace Mental Health and Safety

Tasha Patterson@Work


Flipping the Switch to Improve Workplace Mental Health and Safety

By Terri L. Rhodes, CLMS, CCMP, CPDM, MBA, CEO, DMEC

We’ve been in a mental health crisis for years and oftentimes feel ill-equipped to help when employee assistance programs aren’t enough and access to care is difficult to obtain. Yet absence and disability managers are in an ideal spot to advocate for mental health investments because we see firsthand how mental health delays return-to-work timelines, increases treatment costs, and affects productivity. In fact, poor mental health costs $47.6 billion annually in lost productivity.1

Thankfully improvements are possible. The Spotlight articles in @Work magazine illustrate how effective employer interventions can be — from customized apps to online education. And that work can start even earlier by designing workplaces that include mental and physical safety,2 a topic we will explore during 2023 DMEC Annual Conference sessions in August.3 So, what is the equivalent of a hard hat for mental health and safety? It’s an approach that starts with how employers define employee health; extends to whether we design job descriptions to support (or inadvertently tax) mental and physical health; and includes workload, paid time off, and employee access to and use of mental health resources.

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