May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. For many of us, the last 24 months of living in the shadow of a global pandemic have led to prolonged isolation from our friends and colleagues and introduced new levels of fear and anxiety many of us have never experienced before. have experienced before. And given the growing unease caused by the world’s economic, political and social insecurity, May is the right time for us to have a real conversation about mental health challenges and to reduce the stigma that so many people experience.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), mental illness is one of the most common health problems in the United States. One in five Americans will experience a mental illness in any given year. As one of the largest employers in the US, Walmart’s goal is not only to make our employees aware of mental health issues, but also to ensure they have the skills needed to help make a living or even save.
Starting this month, Walmart is launching a mental health first aid training course that will teach employees how to identify, understand, and respond to people struggling with mental health issues. This four-hour training program, which will be available virtually and in person at the Bentonville Walmart Home Office, prepares employees to:
- Recognize signs and symptoms and provide immediate help and support
- How to properly contact emergency services on behalf of someone
- Implement the mental health first aid action plan
- Accessing Benefits and Resources for Emotional Well-Being
This is just the latest example of how we’re strengthening our commitment to the mental and emotional well-being of our employees. We will continue to offer confidential counseling services 24/7 with licensed therapists at no cost to all employees and their family members, and we will continue to provide our employees with the opportunity to connect with confidential and anonymous virtual support groups at any time of the day with people who have struggle with similar problems.
In addition, we recently expanded a pilot program with AirCare Health that proactively contacts employees who are enrolled in a Walmart medical plan to check in and see how they are doing. As the service area expands to Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, more than 258,000 employees will benefit from this proactive approach to emotional wellbeing.
Well-being is not just the absence of disease † it is the active presence of well-being. As we head into Mental Health Awareness Month in May, benefits like this one will take center stage as we work to raise awareness for people living with mental or behavioral health problems and help those who are struggling know that they are not alone. We have sources available to help. This is all part of our commitment to helping people live better lives.