By Dr. Terrence Welsh, BWC Chief Medical Officer, Forum panel member
I was honored to be a part of last week’s Kennedy Forum 2019 in Chicago! The mission of this annual event is to create lasting change in the way mental health and addictions are treated in our healthcare system.
The forum envisions parity in access to services, transparency in communication and a better understanding and perception of these brain diseases by the public. It addressed accomplishing these goals through healthcare integration, improved technology, and brain health and fitness.
The focus this year was on workplace well-being, specifically as it relates to mental illness and substance use. The forum recognized the work we’ve done in our Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program, which supports businesses that hire workers in recovery.
It also recognized Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s support for this program and the Recovery Ohio Plan he launched as attorney general. The governor’s commitment to workers in recovery breaks through stigma, injects hope, and rebuilds families and lives.
I participated in a panel discussion entitled, “Walking the Walk: Prioritizing Mental Health in Your Hiring and Managing Processes.” The panel featured an amazing group, including Dr. Kelly Clark, Past President, American Society of Addiction Medicine; Geralyn Giorgio, Talent Acquisition, Johnson and Johnson; Carol Kivler, MS, CSP, CMT, national mental health speaker and mental wellness advocate, and David Quilleon, Senior VP, Best Buddies International.
Opioids and our workforce
It’s humbling to hear about the magnificent work these people and their organizations are doing, but also encouraging to know Ohio is a leader in finding solutions to the impact of opioids on our workforce. BWC and Ohio are definitely “walking the walk.”
As Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who addressed the forum, said so well, “It takes courage to address these issues, and we ultimately need to see ourselves in the people we serve.”
The dividends are to our businesses, our workforce, our communities. All of us have been affected, and all of us can be a part of breaking the stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorder.
Taking the first step
None of us can “walk the walk” without taking the first step. I want to thank all of those in recovery and our business community for having the courage to do so. I hope others will follow their lead. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”