American Heart Association
At the American Heart Association, the overall health and well-being of our employees and their families is our highest priority, so we can focus on what matters most — keeping people healthy around the globe. We also know that people who suffer from heart disease or stroke can also likely suffer from anxiety or depression, and it is important to understand that link so we can effectively educate and support the people we serve.
Research shows there could be physiological connections between mental health and heart health. The biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues can also influence heart disease. That’s why weaving mental health awareness into the fabric of everything we do inside our organization is foundational. We care about our employees’ overall health and well-being and we innately understand how devastating mental illness can be to people’s everyday lives. We have many programs in place to help our employees tackle issues that negatively affect their mental health and provide support for diagnosed mental health disorders.
Promoting flexibility allows our employees to integrate their professional responsibilities with their personal goals and obligations to optimize their emotional and mental wellbeing. Many companies promise work-life satisfaction — we actively encourage it. And our mission-driven organization provides nearly 3,500 nationwide employees with a sense of purpose to help save lives.
Employees changing health needs and identifying when support may be needed is vital and we encourage continual listening to one another with the intention of understanding. Through the employee wellness program, a voluntary annual health survey asks employees about stress, depression, substance abuse, social engagement and overall employee attitudes toward their health. Feedback from this assessment is translated into recommended programs and activities to help promote mental and emotional well-being.
Staff are provided a variety of resources to help mitigate stress and develop resiliency skills. For example, coaching programs, including Stress Less, Meditation and Happiness, help manage stress and enhance everyday lifestyle. Suggested mood and stress impact activities are: try a new group activity, meditate daily, breathe deeply, write in a journal, talk to friends and family, do something creative or keep a mood diary.
For employees who may be experiencing personal and/or work-related challenges, we offer free and confidential short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The Personal Assistant component of our EAP helps employees research anything they need help with such as finding elder care options for their parents and in-laws. From 2016 to 2017, our EAP utilization rates of 5 percent – 9 percent continue to be higher than the national benchmark of 4 percent.
Our medical plans offer the same level of benefit for mental health treatment as for medical/surgical treatments. And when our employees need interventions, we offer traumatic event group counseling, resources such as a grief counselor at the office to assist employees work through their feelings related to the passing of a co-worker, materials, professional guidance, and private/confidential, individual, couples or family counseling. If long-term counseling is needed, our medical coverage allows for inpatient/residential treatment or outpatient care.
As a future priority, the American Heart Association is implementing stand-alone health support services such as expanding our telehealth services to reduce barriers to access and make counseling services available to more employees virtually. We’ve expanded our employee resource groups ERGs, who come together based on shared life experiences to move our mission forward and give further meaning to their work.
We have also recently published a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association that identifies ideal brain health so that it can be measured, monitored and modified. Our work will include the emotional component of brain health as we explore the contribution of behavioral science to develop solutions people who are counting on us most. We will collaborate with other experts in the field to inform our approach.
What sets us apart is the fact that we’re in the business of managing chronic disease – whether it’s heart disease or a related condition. We don’t shy away from health challenges. We embrace them. Most importantly, our employees know that they will be supported no matter what.
We are committed to support the overall health and well-being for our employees, their families and the people we serve around the world because we are a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.
Chief Executive Officer
American Heart Association