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SafetyAlerts
December 13,  2001

APA, Leading Employers Join Forces to Combat Mental Health Impact of Terrorism, Disaster

 

 (SafetyAlerts) - The American Psychiatric Association and leading U.S. employers have launched the "National Partnership for Workplace Mental Health" to combat the mental health impact of terrorism, disaster and economic uncertainty in the workplace.

The 14-member National Partnership will provide employers nationwide with a first-response capability -- educational materials, training and other tools -- to meet the mental health needs of their employees in the wake of terrorism and disaster.

"Employers across the country -- both large and small -- need to be better prepared to cope with the psychological fallout associated with major disaster," said Paul Huard, senior vice president, National Association of Manufacturers. "The partnership will give us the knowledge and the tools employers need to help their own employees. Potentially, we can make a major contribution to worker health and productivity," he added.

Founding members -- who will provide advice and counsel as this workplace initiative expands its outreach -- include: American Psychiatric Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Mental Health Services, Constellation Energy, Delta Air Lines, Dow Chemical, DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, Hughes Electronics, IBP, Merrill Lynch, National Association of Manufacturers, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., and UnumProvident Corporation.

The Partnership will establish a Service Center located at the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, D.C. Center staff will develop a broad array of services including:

* Science-based mental health educational materials tailored to specific industries and work sites; * Training curricula that employers can adapt to the needs of their workforce; * Tool kits to screen employees for early signs of stress and mental distress; * A corps of trainers to assist employers with identifying and responding to mental health issues; * A Partnership web site http://www.workplacementalhealth.org/ will be a
primary communication channel between the Partnership and employers of all sizes across the country at no cost; and * Studies on workplace mental health issues, and on the comparative effectiveness of new workplace mental health prevention and intervention strategies.


"The employers in this partnership already have in place extraordinary programs for helping their employees deal with disaster and maintain mental health," said Richard K. Harding, M.D., president, American Psychiatric Association. "The goal of the partnership is to further hone these 'best practices' and disseminate them to the rest of the employer community."

Mental disorders exact a heavy toll on the workforce. Prior to September 11, depression was the third-ranked workplace health problem. Work days lost to depression exceed absences due to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and back problems. The National Institute of Mental Health conservatively estimates that lost productivity, absenteeism, and disability due to mental illness cost U.S. employers an estimated $70 billion annually.

A post-attack study by the Pew Research Center reported that more than half of Americans reported classic symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety, including trouble sleeping and concentrating. Many employees remain anxious about possible future terrorism.

"We intend to work with other companies and the APA through the National Partnership to help businesses directly affected by the events of 9/11 identify workers who could benefit from psychiatric or psychological evaluation and treatment, and to offer expert guidance and support in accessing those services," said David J. McDowell, Ph.D., vice president and regional medical director, UnumProvident Corporation.

Source: PRNewswire.

 
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The information contained herein has been obtained from sources that the Company believes to be reliable, however, the Company has not independently verified or confirmed the information and the recipient acknowledges that no representations or warranties are being made in connection with the use of the information.