Introduction Letter from Dr. Murthy Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. Vice Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service Surgeon General of the United States
Growing up in Miami, I often spent my after-school hours and weekends in the small clinic that my father and mother ran. As I watched my immigrant parents work, I could see that their jobs provided them with not only a paycheck, but also purpose, dignity, and community. The connection between their work and their mental health and well-being was clear. And they knew it. For all the financial hardships and social struggles they faced during those years, their work allowed them to support their family, connect with others, and find meaning. Their work helped them thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of work, and the relationship many workers have with their jobs. The link between our work and our health has become even more evident. Today, more and more workers are worried about making ends meet, dealing with chronic stress, and struggling to balance the demands of both work and personal lives. The toll on their mental health is growing. The pandemic also sparked a reckoning among many workers who no longer feel that sacrificing their health, family, and communities for work is an acceptable trade-off. Organizations are also increasingly aware of another trade-off: when the mental health of workers suffers, so does workplace productivity, creativity, and retention. The pandemic has presented us with an opportunity to rethink how we work. We have the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being. Doing so will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show them that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their long-term professional growth. This may not be easy. But it will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue to both workers and organizations. A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and a healthy community. My parents, like so many others, were drawn to this country by the opportunities it offered: to work, learn, and grow; to be happy and healthy; to belong and to matter. Workplaces have the power to provide such opportunities, and when they do, everyone is better off. Revitalizing our workplaces to support mental health and well-being is how we can turn a moment of crisis into a moment of progress. The Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being shows us how to begin that journey.
Read the full Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being