On October 30, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Deputy Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella joined mental health advocates at an event marking National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the U.S. Department of Labor’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Hosted by the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the event opened with remarks from Secretary Scalia and Deputy Secretary Pizzella. Following the remarks, a panel discussion moderated by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy addressed the need for awareness, accommodations, assistance, and access in a workplace that welcomes people with mental health conditions.
“The U.S. has the lowest unemployment rate on record for Americans with disabilities—6.1 percent,” Secretary Scalia noted. “This robust economy, in which businesses have a pressing need for skilled workers, is a fruitful environment for deepening appreciation of the contributions made in the workplace by Americans with disabilities,” he continued. “And that’s the 2019 NDEAM theme—workers with disabilities can offer American employers the ‘Right Talent, Right now.’”
“It is our goal to foster, promote, and develop the American workforce. That means all individuals in the workforce,” said Deputy Secretary Pizzella. “Part and parcel of this is promoting a mental-health friendly work environment. This is very important to us here at the Department of Labor.”
Following the remarks, a panel discussion moderated by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy addressed the need for awareness, accommodations, assistance, and access in a workplace that welcomes people with mental health conditions.
“Mental health is an often overlooked or misunderstood dimension of disability employment, even as it impacts so many people,” said Assistant Secretary Sheehy in her opening remarks. “We simply can’t fulfill ODEP’s mission—to increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities—without addressing the needs of people with mental health conditions.”
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly one in five American adults – a majority of whom are of working age – experience a mental health condition annually. A study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that more than 80 percent of employees treated for mental health conditions report improved levels of efficiency and satisfaction at work, demonstrating the power of ensuring access.
Earlier this year, ODEP collaborated with its Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) to publish a Mental Health Toolkit.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) honors the contributions workers with disabilities make to America’s workplaces and economy. The theme for 2019 is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” To learn more about NDEAM, visit dol.gov/ndeam.
The Department’s mission is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the U.S.; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.