We have a finite number of hours each day. A good portion of those hours are carried out in workplaces. Mental illness and substance use disorder can affect every workplace, and reducing the stigma around these issues and their treatment can help people get the support they need.
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is open about seeking treatment with substance use, and is ardent that people get care. At the U.S. Department of Labor, we want to ensure the guardrails that support mental health exists in every workplace. We’re supporting mental health and substance use disorder recovery in a variety of ways.
Transparency Helps Everyone
Everybody has a role to play in supporting mental health, including workers and employers. All year we’ve been encouraging people to spread the word by sharing our public service announcements on mental health.
One of our priorities in the Employee Benefits Security Administration is making sure workers know their rights. One of the laws we work on, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, requires most health plans to apply similar rules to mental health and substance use disorder benefits as they do for medical/surgical benefits. Throughout the past year, we’ve been increasing efforts to enforce parity in substance use and mental health services. We are also offering information about laws that support workers’ access to those benefits.
Employers have legal duties, and we have resources to support them. These include guidelines that help employers:
Create safety programs for all industries, but particularly those with high rates of suicide.
You Can Help
American workplaces are often part of our networks, our community, and sometimes even an extension of our family. It can also be a lifeline to resiliency because alone we may be able to endure. But together we can thrive.
Need help with a mental health crisis? Call or text 988, or chat at https://988lifeline.org/.
Ali Khawar is the acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.