MHANYS is pleased to work with Senator Brouk and Assemblymember Gunther on legislation that will positively impact public awareness about mental health in the workplace (S.7577). One in five people in the United States has a serious mental health issue on an annual basis. The numbers have only been exacerbated during COVID. Like other sectors, the millions of workers across New York State are impacted by mental health issues yet they don’t always know where to turn or who to reach out to when they have a serious concern.
This commonsense legislation modeled on California law would help spur a public awareness change in the workforce. This is a twofold bill. The first part of this bill would insure that workplaces post information about mental health that includes resources, ADA information and crisis services information. Much like there is a mandate to post OHSHA information in breakout rooms and other public areas in the workplace, it would be the same now to post about mental health resources.
The second part of this bill would have the NYS Office of Mental Health and the NYS Department of Labor implement voluntary guidelines around workplace wellness that could be utilized for employers or employees that have mental health concerns. These guidelines would serve as a framework for employees and their families that will need information about mental health and resources available to them
These are no cost solutions to implement for our burgeoning behavioral health crisis in the workplace.
Thanks to Senate Mental Hygiene Chair Brouk and Assembly Mental Hygiene Chair Gunther for their leadership. I also want to acknowledge MHANYS Public Policy Director, John Richter, Director of Outreach and Business
Engagement Joelle Monaco and MHANYS Program Coordinator Matt Delaney for their dedicated efforts in working with the Legislature to help this bill come to fruition.
We will need your support in making sure this legislation is passed. Please look for updates.
Senator Brouk, Assemblymember Gunther Introduce Bill to Require Mental Health Resources in the Workplace
S7577 would require workplaces to post information with mental health resources in a shared space.
ALBANY, NY – Senator Samra Brouk (SD-55) and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (AD-100) have introduced legislation that would require employers to conspicuously post information and resources pertaining to mental health. The mental health needs of New York State’s workforce have been historically neglected, with the pandemic causing increased levels of burnout and work-related stress. The postings that would be implemented by this bill would be similar in nature to OSHA signage currently visible in most workplaces’ staff areas.
Although not always as visible as other illnesses, untreated mental health conditions can contribute to disability, unemployment, underemployment, and compromised job performance. This can be especially true when employees are unaware of the resources available to them. Failing to provide employees with the resources they need can be costly; The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that employee mental health and substance-use disorders cost U.S. employers between $80 billion and $100 billion per year.
While workplaces across New York make policies and best practices regarding physical health issues and accommodations clear, similar practices do not exist for mental health. Many employers are unsure of the best practices regarding employee mental health and wellness. Creating a workplace culture of acceptance of mental health, standardized best practices across departments and different roles is essential to ensure that employees have the support they need to be successful.
Senator Samra Brouk said, “Over the past two years, our workforce has faced unprecedented challenges, which have undoubtedly affected the mental health of the average worker. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health, I know that mental health is just as important as our physical health, both of which affect our ability to do our job. One of my priorities is to ensure that our workforce has the tools they need to be successful and healthy, both as we continue to combat the pandemic and beyond, and that’s why the postings proposed by this bill to connect workers with available resources are so important.”
Assemblymember Aileen Gunther said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of a lot of people when it comes to dealing with mental health issues.We’ve seen people losing their jobs, isolation, and stores going out of
business. All this can take its toll. More and more people have been reaching out for help and do not know where to look. This bill will help spread the word about what kind of services are available to New Yorkers. I’ll also be working with the advocates and my partners in the Legislature to ensure that necessary mental health funding is available in next year’s budget.
Glenn Liebman, CEO of Mental Health Association in New York State said, “The mental health impact of COVID has had an enormous impact on New York’s workforce. This commonsense legislation will help ensure that employers and employees have a greater awareness of mental health and resources that will be available to them. We thank Senator Brouk and Assemblymember Gunther for their leadership in introducing this legislation.”
In addition to requiring postings of mental health resources, the legislation also requires the state to establish a framework for addressing mental health in the workplace. This includes practices to reduce mental health stigma, increase public, employee, and employer awareness of mental health issues, and provide guidance to employers to put in place strategies and programs to support the mental health and wellness of their employees. This legislation is currently in committee in both the Senate and Assembly.
New York State Senator Samra Brouk (pronounced Sah-mra Brew-k) represents the incredibly diverse 55th Senate District, stretching from the southern shores of Lake Ontario, through Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, and south to Finger Lakes wine country. It includes Victor, East Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Richmond, Bristol, South Bristol, Canadice, and Naples in Ontario County and Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Penfield, East Rochester, and Irondequoit, plus the east side of the City of Rochester in Monroe County. Senator Brouk serves as the Chair of the Mental Health Committee and sits on Health, Education, Elections, Women’s Issues, Aging, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse committees.
December 7, 2021