With the recent national focus on mental wellness and the urge to ensure the psychological safety of employees, Rasmussen Group wanted to take a closer look at reducing the stigma of mental illness in the workplace, and help employees feel more comfortable seeking the mental health services they might need.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries, at 53.2 suicides per 100,000 workers. That's about four times greater than the national average and five times greater than all other construction. Rasmussen Group is a family-owned construction company in Des Moines, Iowa with over 700 employees located throughout the Midwest.
“Knowing the alarming facts around mental illness and suicide in our industry, we knew we had to offer more support to our employees and roll-out some initiatives to reduce the stigma of mental illness within our workforce,” said Jessica Sheets, Rasmussen Group’s Wellness Supervisor.
Having utilized several of their resources already, when the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative introduced Make It OK in Iowa, Jessica seized the opportunity to be involved. She soon became a Make It OK Ambassador and attended a training in Central Iowa on how to implement the Make It OK campaign at Rasmussen Group. She also collaborated with other mental health advocates across the state to develop the Make It OK Worksite Toolkit to provide guidance to other employers looking to develop strategies to reduce the mental health stigma within their workplace.
Following her training, Jessica introduced Make It OK to Rasmussen Group’s Work Well Ambassadors, the company’s wellness jobsite liaisons. The goal was to educate Ambassadors on how to lead with empathy and talk with other employees who might be experiencing a mental health situation.
Rasmussen Group also saw gaps within their company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). After an extensive search and vetting process, they implemented a new EAP product with 24/7/365 access and six free sessions of mental health counseling. To Rasmussen Group, it only made sense to offer a benefit that could provide immediate services to employees experiencing mental illness or crisis if they were going to be encouraging employees to advocate for their mental wellness and seek the help they might need.
Following these initial first steps came an internal Make It OK Campaign and jobsite education in the form of Toolbox Talks. Later, to keep the momentum going, mental wellness was the headlining topic at a few recent Rasmussen Group events. First, at Rasmussen Group’s Annual Work Well Recognition Luncheon where guest Make It OK Ambassador, Amy Eaton, presented and attendees pledged to reduce the stigma of mental health. And just this past February Make It OK was incorporated into a larger series of presentations on mental health in construction at Rasmussen Group’s Biennial Manager’s Meeting.
As COVID-19 made a detrimental impact on the mental health of individuals across the globe these past two years, Rasmussen Group feels fortunate to have addressed the need of mental wellness resources and support when they did, and Make It OK has been a constant positive message to their employees that it is OK to not be OK.