November 10, 2022

Surgeon General Releases Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being at Work

Citing changes in the nature of work related to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has released a new framework outlining the role played by workplaces in promoting the mental health and well-being of workers and communities (PDF). The 30-page document outlines five “essentials” for workplace mental health and well-being: protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work, and opportunities for growth. These essentials are each associated with two human needs that are shared by workers across industries and roles and three to four “key components” of supportive policies, processes, and practices.

For many U.S. workers, the pandemic has brought the relationship between work and well-being “into clearer focus,” states a press release issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The press release also cites survey findings that 76 percent of U.S. workers report at least one symptom of a mental health condition, that 84 percent say their workplace has contributed to at least one mental health challenge, and that 81 percent will look for workplaces that support mental health in the future. Employers are uniquely positioned to invest in the mental health of their workforces and thereby strengthen their organizations’ success, according to HHS.

The framework may “be viewed as a starting point for organizations in updating and institutionalizing policies, processes, and practices to best support the mental health and well-being of workers,” according to the document. It also states that “[t]he Five Essentials can guide leaders, managers, and supervisors, as well as empower workers, to identify and communicate about priority organizational changes needed.” Lists of resources to help individuals and organizations actualize each essential are also provided.

More information and a downloadable PDF of the framework can be accessed on the HHS website.