BOSTON – Leaders of the U.S. Department of Labor convened yesterday in Boston for a roundtable discussion on the importance of mental health friendly workplaces, particularly in the building trades. The event was held at the Iron Workers Local 7 Union Hall.
The discussion highlighted the union local’s practices to promote workers’ mental health, part of the administration’s national strategy to transform mental health care and address the nation’s mental health care crisis. The roundtable also included leaders from New England-area unions and members, building contractors, and experts in substance use disorders and their prevention and treatment.
The department’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Towle, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker, Principal Deputy Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Ali Khawar and Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams participated in the discussion.
“At the core of our mission is supporting America’s workers, and that requires a holistic approach that recognizes the relationship between mental health and work,” said the department’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Towle. “This is the premise behind our Mental Health at Work initiative, which is leveraging resources from across the department to help employers and workers foster supportive workplaces that prioritize mental health and increase access to support, for all workers.”
“These discussions on mental health highlighted some of the excellent work that is being done in the Boston region to address a part of worker safety and health that hasn’t gotten enough attention,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Mental health, workplace stress and suicide have very real work-related implications. Worker safety and health should be holistic. It is one thing to focus on the physical hazards that workers face, but we must do more to protect the mental health of workers.”
“Work is a key factor in a person’s mental health. Whether we consider working conditions, culture, compensation, flexibility and leave, or the quality of benefits and insurance coverage, a person’s job has a real impact on their wellbeing – and their ability to access care,” said Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams. “This is why the Office of Disability Employment Policy is helping employers and labor unions understand the steps they can take to promote mental health-friendly work environments for their employees and for their members.”
“Providing workers, retirees and their families access to the benefits they need for mental health care and treatment of substance use disorders is key to addressing the mental health crisis in America,” said Principal Deputy Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Ali Khawar. “At the Employee Benefits Security Administration, we will continue enforcing the laws to ensure access to those mental health and substance use disorder benefits.”