CNA sitting on stairs with head in her hands.
Marty Walsh hedshot
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh

A new public education campaign will stress the importance of mental health-friendly workplaces, the Department of Labor announced Wednesday at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Workplace Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

The department’s “Mental Health at Work: What Can I Do?” campaign aims to educate the public on the role that CEOs, managers, co-workers and others can play in promoting mental wellness in the workplace. According to the Labor Department, those roles can “range from setting the tone for an inclusive workplace, to providing and requesting assistance and accommodations, to being a source of support to peers and colleagues.”

A public service announcement will be distributed to television and radio stations nationally, and related companion materials can be downloaded online. Materials include posters, behind-the-scenes video interviews, workplace mental health resources and tips for using the PSA in the workplace. The PSA was produced by the Campaign for Disability Employment, a collaborative effort funded by the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy with the goal of showcasing supportive, inclusive workplaces for all workers.

“It’s my sincere hope that the federal funding from this law will help not only prepare healthcare workers for what they may face in their career but set them up with a lifelong pursuit of mental healthcare,” Mary Lopez, RN, MSN, Ph.D., dean of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Graduate Nursing, told the McKnight’s Business Daily in email.

The announcement follows the signing last week by President Biden of a bipartisan bill that aims to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is named for an emergency department physician who died by suicide two years ago while serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law will provide up to $135 million in federal funding for mental health education and awareness campaigns aimed at protecting the well-being of healthcare workers.

“Today, one in five working-age Americans has a mental health condition. As America recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health-friendly workplaces will be more important than ever,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in the Labor Department’s announcement of the campaign. “This timely public education campaign reminds us that we all have a role to play, and that we all benefit from flexible, supportive workplaces that promote good mental health,” he added.

Many of the problems facing the long-term care industry, including staff burnout, can be mitigated by using a mental health lens, Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., said during a McKnight’s podcast earlier this month.