The U.S. Surgeon General Publishes Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Wellbeing

October 24, 2022

On October 20, 2022, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released The U.S. Surgeon General's Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being, which offers a foundation that workplaces can build upon to show workers that they matter, that their work matters, and that they have the workplace resources and support necessary to flourish.

The 30-page framework identifies Five Essentials centered on the worker's voice and equity, which support workplaces as engines of well-being:

  • Protection from Harm
  • Opportunity for Growth
  • Mattering at Work
  • Work-Life Harmony
  • Connection & Community

Each of these essentials is grounded in two human needs, shared across industries and roles. For example, the Protection from Harm essential is grounded in the needs of safety and security. Regarding Opportunity for Growth, the human needs are learning and accomplishment; Mattering at Work, dignity and meaning; Work-Life Harmony, autonomy and flexibility; and Connection & Community, social support and belonging.

As reported on the Workplace Well-Being page of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS') website, where the framework is available for download, recent surveys suggest that 76% of U.S. workers reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition; 84% of respondents said their workplace conditions had contributed to at least one mental health challenge; and 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.

Dr. Murthy was quoted in the Framework in his introduction letter saying, "Today, more and more workers are worried about making ends meet, dealing with chronic stress, and struggling to balance the demands of both work and personal lives. The toll on their mental health is growing. The pandemic also sparked a reckoning among many workers who no longer feel that sacrificing their health, family, and communities for work is an acceptable trade-off." He continued, "The pandemic has presented us with an opportunity to rethink how we work. We have the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being. Doing so will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show them that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their long-term professional growth. This may not be easy. But it will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue to both workers and organizations. A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and a healthy community."

Click here to access HHS's page on Workplace Well-Being, and click here to access The U.S. Surgeon General's Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being itself.

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