Supporting Employees Through Mental Health Challenges


Editor’s note: The following blog deals with sensitive topics such as mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling, call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.

Workplace Policies and Culture Can Help Those in Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified a focus on mental health in the workplace and the importance of work-life balance. When people thrive at work, they are more likely to feel physically and mentally healthy while positively contributing to the workplace. Organizational leaders, managers, supervisors and workers can help identify when someone is struggling by knowing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions. Together, we can explore innovative solutions to enable workers to flourish in the workplace and beyond.

More than 160 million people make up the United States workforce today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience mental illness in a given year. And the American Psychological Association says over 70% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress.

A workplace wellness program is one way to identify at-risk individuals and connect them to resources and assistance quickly.

A Culture of Support in the Pallet Industry

Hope Timber employees’ mental health is on leaders’ minds daily and year-round. One way the company supports employees is through its job skills coaching program. We don’t want employees to feel alone if they find themselves experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Crisis events in our lives take us all by surprise,” job skills coach John Lutz said. “When these events occur, it is human nature to experience feelings of desperation, hopelessness and isolation. The importance of positive mental health is reflected in the company’s core values and essential to our ability to work with one another successfully.”

During monthly check-ins with the job skills coach, employees can confidentially share personal goals and concerns while Hope Timber leaders learn how the company can best support them. Each employee can take up to an hour each month to participate in housing- or finance-related services brought on-site.

Suicide Prevention: Strategies for the Workplace

The September-October edition of PalletCentral, a National Wooden Pallet and Container Association publication, featured an article on Psychological First Aid and Workplace Mental Health. The author, Adele L. Abrams, Esq., ASP, CMSP, noted an increase in mental health concerns impacting the workplace before and during the coronavirus pandemic.

Abrams introduces the concept of Psychological First Aid (PFA), describing it as “an essential tool in addressing and mitigating mental health crises occurring in the workplace.” PFA also assists survivors of natural disasters, mass shootings, and other traumatic events outside the workplace.

The CDC reported a 30% increase in suicide rates between 2000 and 2018 before a decline in 2019 and 2020. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with one death every 11 minutes. Of an estimated 1.2 million attempts in 2020, nearly 46,000 people died by suicide. About 12.2 million adults seriously thought about it, and 3.2 million made a suicide plan.

Suicide is preventable. Some strategies to help prevent suicide include:

  • Ensuring robust financial security and stable housing
  • Reducing substance use and access to lethal means among people at risk of suicide
  • Creating healthy organizational policies and culture
  • Covering mental health conditions in health insurance policies
  • Promoting healthy connections
  • Teaching coping and problem-solving skills
  • Identifying and supporting people at risk

Feeling One’s Best at Work and Beyond

The CDC says that poor mental health can negatively affect engagement with one’s work, communication with colleagues, physical abilities and daily functioning, and job performance and productivity. Workplace wellness programs have been highly successful when companies combine mental and physical health interventions.

We encourage Hope Timber employees who are struggling to connect with a trained professional, who can refer them to additional services and provide resources related to mental health, crisis intervention and suicide prevention, substance use disorder and addiction, emergency shelter, rent and utility assistance, food help, and health care resources. Licking County residents have access to over 700 agencies and 1,800 support programs.

“We don’t want employees ever to feel they are neglecting their job duties by taking advantage of these services,” Lutz said. “If we are to improve continuously, deliver excellence to our customers, and treat each other positively and with respect, we must recognize the importance of taking care of ourselves. Positive mental health is the cornerstone of one feeling their best and being the best Hope Timber team member they can be.”

If you’re interested in joining the Hope Timber team or learning more about our supportive workplace initiatives for employees, check out our current job opportunities or call 740-344-1788.

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