We study the impact of our surroundings, both natural and built, on health.
The field of environmental and occupational health covers everything from the air we breathe and the water we drink to the injuries and mental health challenges we may face at work. We strive to improve health by promoting practices and policies that reduce harmful exposures and protect vulnerable populations. From improving worker health and safety, to promoting healthy housing, to creating new tools to monitor air and water quality, we work to make our homes, our workplaces, and our communities healthier places for all.
A graduate degree in environmental & occupational health prepares you to think critically about complex challenges and to design solutions that improve public health. When you leave one of our programs, you’ll be ready to address emerging environmental and workplace issues in a way that builds on science while prioritizing real people. Our graduates work in environmental health and safety, emergency management, environmental epidemiology, and workplace safety and health in private, nonprofit, and government organizations.
CHWE’s approach to mental health awareness and support is rooted in the understanding that employers have an immense opportunity to impact the mental health of their employees.
It has launched:
The workplace is the place to address mental health.
COVID-19 has significantly impacted workers and the business community. Employees and business owners have experienced tremendous stress and hardship due to shutdowns, school closures, financial losses, and family illness and loss. Nearly half of Americans suffered from a mental health issue during the pandemic. Today, it’s estimated one in five adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness each year. Yet only one in three who need help will get it.
During the peak of the pandemic, a collective increased awareness of mental health issues caught the attention of business leaders. As many workers return to the office and to a new normal, mental health has remained an ongoing issue for employers to focus on. For all organizations, it is important to be conscious of employee mental health. Education, awareness, early detection, and treatment of mental health issues can improve overall employee well-being and prevent a crisis.
Last year, the Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) launched the Workplace Mental Health Module, in collaboration with the University of Colorado Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, as a direct response to the need for mental health support heightened by COVID-19, to better reinforce mental health in workplaces.
For many, mental health feels like a private, personal issue. Why bring it up in the workplace?
CHWE’s approach to mental health awareness and support is rooted in the framework of Total Worker Health® and the understanding that employers have an immense opportunity to impact the mental health of their employees. If we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, then employers have an immense opportunity to positively impact the health, safety and mental well-being of their employees.
“Even pre-pandemic, our center heard from employers across Colorado and nationally that employee mental health was their number one priority,” said Lili Tenney, DrPH, assistant professor at the ColoradoSPH and associate director for outreach and programs at CHWE. “Over the pandemic, mental health has become a public health crisis and we will continue, through our work and collaborations, to provide employers and working adults with the best resources to help.”
To educate business leaders and professionals and address workplace mental health as an academic institution, CHWE has been translating its science to practice. Attendees of CHWE’s regular mental health webinars have consistently valued to quality of the expert faculty and rich content provided.
CHWE’s employer outreach and advising program, Health Links, allows the group to offer its occupational safety and health expertise and mental health knowledge directly to employers. Through self-assessment surveys, science-backed trainings, networking opportunities, and expert advising, CHWE is bridging the gap between academia and industry to impact workplace culture. Health Links is a working, breathing, sustained example of public health practice and puts scientific expertise directly in front of business leaders and changemakers.
“Through advising, I’ve been able to hear first-hand how much effort organizations and champions of mental health are putting towards finding new solutions,” said David Shapiro, senior manager for programs and partnerships at CHWE. “We work together to find best practices that meet the mental health needs of their diverse workforces.”
This method, most popularly adopted through our Workplace Mental Health Module, is benefiting workplaces across the state of Colorado. Organizations that are part of the Health Links network are showing their consistent dedication to workplace mental health to their employees and industries. Companies represent a range of industries and geographical locations across the state including Greeley-Evans School District 6, TIAA, Encore Electric, and Absolute Caulking & Waterproofing.
To continue equipping workplaces with affordable mental health support and resources, CHWE recently launched the Mental Health in the Workplace training. This free, online, self-paced coursed is designed to help employees at all levels make an impact in the mental health culture of their workplace.
Placing further emphasis on mental health and supporting employers make the workplace a psychologically safe place, CHWE hosted a webinar, through its employer advising program Health Links™, on the state of workplace mental health on May 18, 2022.
CHWE invites individuals at every level of their organization to starting acting. Watch the recorded webinar from May 18, take the free online course, and start making a difference for your coworkers, direct reports, and workplace as a whole. Mental health matters and the workplace is the place to start.
Written by Laura Veith, communications and media program manager at the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health.