Addressing Workplace Mental Health

Addressing mental health in the workplace

Providing a safe space for discussion about mental health


A recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Report cites Five Essentials as “engines of well-being” in the workplace. The essentials to workplace mental health are a guideline for creating a healthy work environment. The framework for workplace mental health contains the following essentials:

1. Protection from Harm – safety and security

2. Connection and Community – social support and belonging

3. Work-Life Harmony – autonomy and flexibility

4. Mattering at Work – dignity and meaning

5. Opportunity for Growth – learning and accomplishment


The report goes on to say that 160,000,000 people are part of the workforce in the U. S. And that meaningful work shapes our health, wealth, and well-being. It places responsibility and a “unique opportunity” for leaders to create work environments that support all employees’ mental healh and well-being.


In addition to the many impacts on the health and well-being of workers themselves, workplace well-being can affect productivity and organizational performance. U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-being


Addressing Workplace Mental Health

Feeling stress in the workplace in the aftermath of the pandemic? You are not the only one. A recent Report from The Standard Insurance Company, says half of all workers are struggling with a mental health issue. Work from home and fear of stigma has driven mental health disorders underground. Because of this, mental health and substance use disorders often go undetected, particularly in the workplace. The opioid epidemic, the mental health crisis, and the broad reach of addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions into the family, society, and the economy, make it clear that employers cannot afford to avoid the impact of mental health and substance use disorders among their staff.



The Sanford Model

At Sanford Behavioral Health, we have long known that prevention and education in the workplace are critical components to providing and maintaining a safe environment for all employees. The Sanford Model was designed to support employers in addressing the challenges cost-effectively and proactively. Employers have many options to implement mental health awareness into their training programs. Leaders in an organization can be trained to identify substance misuse/dependence and mental health issues and take the proper action to help employees when problems arise.


The workplace culture can play a significant role in disincentivizing drinking and drug use. It can also provide a safe space for discussion about mental health, approach to treatment, and reintegration into the workplace after treatment for a mental health condition. A proactive plan to manage substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders can also provide overall cost savings and increased productivity.


workplace mental health

Creating cultures of inclusion and belonging…


Raising Awareness in the Workplace

A multi-disciplinary team from Sanford Behavioral Health, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is doing something to raise awareness of the problem.  Led by Sanford Founder and President. Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC, they have taken their presentation, “Raising Awareness of Mental Health & Substance Use in the  Workplace” on the road, in person or via telehealth. Speaking to managers, human resource professionals, and other key employees, their goal is to open the dialogue about mental illness in the workplace. And to provide solid advice about how to create a mental health friendly environment and develop the “soft skill ” associated with managing mental health.


workplace mental health

Rae Green “with” U.S. Surgeon Gereral, Dr. Murthy – opening the dialogue on mental illness in the workplace

From: Raising Awareness of Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders in the Workplace

When addressing mental health and substance use disorders in the workplace, it is always a good idea to tackle the problems promptly. Be supportive and straightforward and focus on health, well-being and performance. When someone suffers from anxiety, depression, or substance misuse, it usually manifests in their work performance.


It is never a good idea to argue, accuse or get sidetracked with rationalizing or blame. Have an objective and specific expectations in mind. And always be prepared with concrete help.  Because, the goal is to provide those needing help and their families, with the tools they need to make educated decisions about the level of care necessary for the best outcomes.


An understanding of mental health disorders is key to prevention and treatment. Companies should look at mental health with the same compassion and urgency as they do other chronic illnesses. All of this works best when you can set the tone and culture from the top down. It pays dividends long-term. Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit