“Addiction is based on fear, which goes hand in hand with stigma, it is a disease of progression, for which recovery is “the last house on the block” — that is why it’s so important that the workplace to be a safe, supportive environment where employees can ask for help.”
Fedcap’s 11th Solution Series, Addressing Employee Mental Health and Addiction: Improving Your Business Bottom Line, was one of its most powerful to date. The event, on March 30 at the Mutual of America building in Manhattan, drew an overflow crowd of more than 140, including almost 50 businesses, and attracted many more who participated via webcast.
A distinguished panel of business leaders explored the ways in which employees struggle with substance abuse disorders and untreated mental illnesses, and how employers are designing and offering programs and services to help these individuals.
Brooke Wilson, head of Worklife Services for Resources for Living, Aetna’s employee assistance program, talked about presenteeism – the impact on productivity when one or a number of employees suffer from untreated mental illness or substance abuse disorder. For employers, the challenge is to encourage these individuals to utilize available services, and ensure that the services are effective. To measure the impact of its services, Ms. Wilson said that Aetna monitors multiple components of well-being as reported by employees, and uses other metrics.
Jim Salzano, head of Easy Spirit Shoes, said that he feels a responsibility to serve everyone in his company – too often, society in general is conditioned to reject people at their moment of greatest need, when suffering from addiction or mental illness. In creating a healthy, non-stigmatizing work environment, Mr. Salzano said that as a chief executive, he strives to treat his employees the way he would want to be treated were he in that situation.
Matthew R. Sisk, Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, spoke eloquently about his own struggles with alcoholism. He said that substance abuse is based on fear, which goes hand in hand with stigma, and that it is a disease of progression, for which recovery is “the last house on the block;” no one else wants you when you are at that place in your life. That’s why it’s so important that the workplace to be a safe, supportive environment in which employees can address their issues.
This recent Solution Series compliments Fedcap’s innovative work in integrating education, treatment, recovery and employment to change people’s lives—every day. Fedcap operates an outpatient behavioral health clinic in the Bronx, a day treatment program in New Jersey and a peer driven clubhouse in Manhattan. Fedcap recently combined with Granite Pathways in New Hampshire, and our first recovery center will open in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the end of April.