Addressing Mental Health: A People-First Approach

A Message from Dr. Vince Hafeli

I wanted to take a minute to talk about an important workplace topic. Mental health and thoughts of suicide are not solely personal matters, they have far-reaching implications that touch all aspects of a business. I’ll share how conversations surrounding mental health and suicide in the workplace can benefit not only your people but directly impact your business operations and profit margins.

From an organizational and well-being standpoint, mental health challenges directly affect critical aspects of organizations such as safety programs, employee recruitment, retention, production and so much more.

When looking for the solution on how an organization can address this, it doesn’t need to be unnecessarily complicated, I believe the best way to address mental health and suicide is a people-first approach.

At Ajax Paving, our team kickstarts this essential dialogue by fostering vulnerability and compassion within the executive leadership team. Leaders should openly embrace the topic and encourage their business partners and colleagues to share their struggles honestly and free from fear of repercussions. Prioritizing worker mental health becomes a necessity, not just an option.

The benefits of this open dialogue extend to other aspects of your business — including your profit margins. The World Health Organization has revealed that for every dollar invested in mental health, a company receives a fourfold return. Imagine the impact on your profitability if you achieved such returns on every investment.

There’s also the profoundly human aspect to consider. Recently, one of our field operations leaders shared a success story, where an employee was contemplating suicide. Swift action was taken, and coworkers promptly alerted their supervisor, who engaged an employee trained in the LivingWorks safeTALK Program to talk to the struggling individual. And it worked. In the end, a coworker’s life was saved. The return on that? Priceless.

My mission is to not only be a thought leader but to inspire my fellow C-Suite Executives to join this vital movement. I am grateful to the Florida Chamber and Robert “Navy Bob” Roncska for discovering and supporting my cause. I eagerly anticipate a long-lasting partnership with the Chamber as we collectively work to elevate Florida from its 49th-place ranking in mental health within the U.S.

Yes, 49th place is something we should be deeply concerned about and motivated to change. Together, we can drive impact.