Prioritizing conversations about mental health in the workplace


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and an awareness campaign with the theme “Let’s Talk about Mental Health” intends to cultivate an environment where discussing mental and emotional well-being in the workplace is not only accepted but encouraged.

This sentiment aligns with the recently announced commitment to the health and well-being of the University of Michigan community emphasized in Vision 2034 and detailed in the Well-being Collective’s Common Agenda. 

“In a health-promoting environment, speaking about mental health can become as normal as discussing physical health,” said Rob Ernst, chief health officer, executive director of University Health Service, and associate vice president for health and wellness in Student Life.

“It’s essential that our faculty and staff feel empowered to share their experiences and seek support when they need it, without fear of judgment. Destigmatizing mental health issues can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment.”

In addition to highlighting available support and resources for faculty and staff at every campus, the campaign highlights the essential role of an open and compassionate culture of faculty and staff mental health. Open discussion about mental and emotional health can foster a sense of connectivity, empathy and belonging across the entire university.

Leaders and supervisors have a particularly important role in creating a supportive workplace environment, which may include regular check-ins with their team about current well-being and stress levels, and modeling positive behaviors and relationships.

“In our community, ‘Let’s Talk about Mental Health’ is a call to action for kindness, understanding and mutual support,” said Kelcey Stratton, chief behavioral health strategist at University Human Resources. “This is a reminder that everyone’s mental health is important, and it’s absolutely OK to talk about it. As a community, we can listen and support one another, reinforcing that no one has to navigate challenges alone.”

Stratton said U-M offers several free services to help those in need of support, as well as many resources to nourish and maintain mental and emotional well-being. 

Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campus faculty, staff and their adult benefits-eligible family members can seek support at the university’s Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office. FASCCO offers no-cost, confidential services including individual counseling to give people tools and strategies to develop resilience and cope with stress.

Michigan Medicine’s Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience offers similar services to faculty, staff, house officers and their families.

Additional resources are available on the UHR website, including confidential self-assessment tools, and detailed information about health plan benefits for mental health.

There also are several events planned in May, including facilitated discussion groups offered by FASCCO, courses from Organizational Learning to help supervisors learn how to support their teams, and guided mindfulness in nature experiences around campus and in Nichols Arboretum.

The Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry is also providing a series of events throughout the month of May.



  1. Jessyca Hannah
    on May 2, 2024 at 8:16 am

    The first step to creating this environment is to stop putting people in positions of power who lack empathy. Staff will continue to suffer the negative effects of mental health as long as they have a boss that makes them feel as if their health is not as important as the work being done.

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