Mental Health in the Workplace Seminar

The goal of an upcoming local summit is to teach businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR)  how to end mental health stigma in the workplace and how to offer support to employees.

According to the GLBR Alliance, 41.5% of adults in the United States exhibited symptoms of anxiety or depression in early 2021. They note that workplaces are in a position to offer support.

The summit is being organized by the  Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership and Saginaw Valley State University. It will be held on Wed, March 2. It is open to any employers in the region who are “interested in positioning themselves to learn how a business or organization can support mental health in the workplace,” according to Dr. Matt Samocki, Steering Team Member for the Great Lakes Bay Region Mental Health Partnership. Samocki says the Covid-19 pandemic has “definitely exacerbated the issue of mental health globally.” 
Dr. Matt Samocki is the director of THRIVE.
Samocki says that in the past two years, 7 out of 10 people globally, are struggling with their mental health. He notes that what helps to remove the stigma is “to talk about it.” In a survey taken prior to planning the seminar, Samocki says, “a great deal of interest among area businesses” was shown in regard to being presented information on mental health in the workplace

Back in 2018, J.W. Fisher, president of the Fisher Companies, partnered with the GLBR Alliance to develop a pilot program to increase awareness of mental health issues, services, and the stigma that surrounds it. In April 2019, Fisher’s new mental health program was rolled out to the 100 plus employees in the company's Northern Division. One year later, the program was officially expanded to cover all ten of the Fisher Companies, their 325 Michigan employees, and their families. 

“We wanted to create a culture where it's ok to ask for help,” Fisher says, adding that mental health in the workplace should be viewed as another medical issue or condition and should be covered by health insurance, “just like a doctor's visit.” Since offering his own employees mental health options in the workplace, Fisher says it’s been well-received. He says his employees have personally thanked him for bringing in the resources and programs.
J.W. Fisher is the president of The Fisher Companies.
They’ve developed a toolkit that is available for other businesses to download. “The materials are practical,” says Fisher, who is also the steering team chairperson for the GLBR Mental Health Partnership. Fisher is also one of the seminar’s keynote speakers. He plans to talk to attendees about his companies’ strategies.

The hands-on, in-person seminar will be held on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Rd. in Curtiss Hall from 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Click here to register. Included in the seminar’s agenda is a storytelling portion. Fisher, Rob Vallentine of SVSU, and Seth Perigo of Huntington Bank will share experiences.  A panel will also discuss strategies to support mental health, first-aid training, a broad continuum of services, available health and wellness programs and access to quality care.

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Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika has covered a wide array of topics in and around Midland and Saginaw counties. She’s an award winning reporter, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy/Marygrove College. When Erika is not writing, she enjoys dancing in her kitchen with her two dogs and family. She loves to read, cook, travel and go to concerts. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 26 years.