Shine a Light: May is Mental Health Month

“I wasn’t just in darkness. I had become the dark.” These powerful words were penned by my friend, Cooper Thornton, who just last week released his 13-chapter essay in which he shares very personally his experience with depression and treatment during the COVID pandemic. His story is unique to him, of course, but also similar to that of so many Americans. Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 11% of US adults reported symptoms related to anxiety or depressive disorder in 2019. In October 2020, that number had increased to 38%, and among them, 20% not receiving treatment. To be sure, anyone who’s paying attention is aware of this growing mental health crisis as the pandemic begins to fade.

This secondary pandemic health crisis will require action from every sector. We’ll face it head-on in October with HEROForum21 on “Bouncing Back: Boosting Mental Resilience and Organizational Immunity.” HERO published a report in 2020 on Employee Mental Health and Well-Being: Emerging Best Practices and Case Study Examples, and this year the HERO Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Study Committee aims to build on the report by identifying employer bright spots, exploring workplace mental well-being metrics, and seeking new solutions informed by diversity, equity, and inclusion. And we can learn from our global neighbors. Workplace mental health is the focus of a new report from Wellcome, which looked at ten studies and the evidence behind promising approaches to address anxiety and depression. Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development with the Institute for Employment Studies, authored a recent article with new data on the link between mental health and productivity.

Commenting on the Stress in America™: January 2021 Stress Snapshot, American Psychological Association CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. said, “Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will be dealing with the mental health fallout from this pandemic for years to come.” And that recovery can start with you.

APA Tips to Manage Stress infographic



Rabbit exploring inside a hole2021 Summer Think Tank

The War on Truth: The employer’s role in plugging the disinformation rabbit hole
June 7, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM CT

As a leader in translating evidence to inform practice, HERO adheres to a basic science tenet: conclusions should be based in facts. This think tank challenges HERO members to consider their roles as guardians against the growing assaults on science. In an era where the majority of Americans get health information via social media, our profession must systematically develop and advance initiatives where facts matter.

Visit the HERO blog for our reading list on this subject to help us consider our roles as guardians against the growing assaults on science.

HERO Do Tank Sample Questions:

  1. Does HR have a role to play in PR? Discuss whether or how your human resources team is playing a role in countering fake news and disinformation about COVID-19.
  2. Are there best practices in improving health literacy and countering disinformation?

Speakers announced – you’ll find the updated agenda, registration, and more information on the Think Tank webpage.

2021 Healthcare Summit

Caring for the Caregiver: Addressing the Emotional and Mental Well-being of Healthcare Workers
October 12, 2021 | 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM CT
Renaissance Austin Hotel, Austin, TX

Healthcare workers have been increasingly burdened by the incredible demands on the front lines and at home. The impact of ongoing mental and emotional distress is projected to continue into the foreseeable future. These issues will continue to influence the well-being needs of our employees, their families, and our communities for months and years to come. As a result, healthcare organizations will need to find new models for effectively addressing employees’ mental and emotional resilience and well-being. Join us for an interactive session to share best practices and innovative solutions in supporting employee mental well-being.

Register now on the Forum21 registration site.

Can’t make it to Austin this October? Click the link above and sign up to view the Healthcare Summit On-Demand recording!

HERO Forum 2021General Session Speakers Announced!

We’re pleased to announce our 2021 line-up of superstars for the HEROForum21 general sessions. Cara McNulty (Aetna) and Jennifer Posa (Johnson & Johnson) will join Karen Moseley for the opening session on the Forum theme of mental resilience. Wendy Lynch (Lynch Consulting) will partner with Stanford University colleagues Meag-gan O’Reilly and Patty de Vries for an authentic interaction highlighting positive biracial communication skills. On Day 2, HERO Senior Research Fellow Sara Johnson will facilitate the industry research update with Rachel Henke. And HERO Senior Fellow Paul Terry will host a fireside chat with Olympic gymnast and bronze medalist Wendy Bruce Martin, and maybe share a few gymnastics stories of his own. Stay tuned for more to follow!

Check the Forum website for more information and to reserve your spot now!

HERO is a designated provider of continuing education contact hours (CECH) in health education by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Provider ID# 101039

Thanks to our new Forum sponsors!

Benefactor Level

vida logo

Patron Level

Kaiser Permanente logoWebMD health services logo


Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces logoSociety of Behavioral Medicine logo

Questions on Forum sponsorship? Email

2021 University Summit

Coming Soon!

Bouncing back and moving forward: Exploring emerging and innovative solutions at universities and medical centers that address top concerns through new or revised policies, system changes, structures and programming.

November 8, 2021
A virtual summit!

More details to come!

HERO Workplace Health & Well-being Leadership Awards

Nominations Due Date Extended to May 31st! Nominate your colleagues! HERO membership NOT required!

For the 12th consecutive year, our industry’s premier individual awards program, the HERO Workplace Health & Well-Being Awards, will recognize outstanding leadership and achievements as well as commitment to the field of workplace health and well-being (HWB). To be considered for an award in 2021, materials must be received by May 31, 2021. We are accepting nominations for: The Bill Whitmer Leadership Award, The Mark Dundon Research Award, The Jerry Noyce Executive Health Champion Award, and The Heart of HERO Award.

New this year, to enable HERO to recognize diverse achievements in workplace HWB, we’re seeking to spotlight nominees who have a focus on community or address social determinants of health of employees.

Please visit the HERO website to learn more and access the appropriate nomination forms. Questions? Email


Join the Workplace Mental Health & Well-being Study Committee

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, HERO would like to announce that the Workplace Performance Committee has refreshed its charter and is now officially the Workplace Mental Health & Well-being Study Committee. The Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Study Committee aims to build on our previous work exploring ways employers are developing and measuring the success of workplace mental health and well-being (MHWB) strategies in the wake of the dual pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19. As the landscape of workplace behavioral health strategy and technology evolves, employers continue to face challenges regarding outcomes measurement. In addition, utilization remains suboptimal due to individual and system-level barriers, including cultural, geographical, and financial challenges known to impact U.S. adults by race/ethnicity differentially. The committee aims to identify employer bright spots, explore workplace mental well-being metrics, and understand new solutions to workplace mental health and well-being informed by diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and the factors associated with their success across diverse workplace sizes and settings. You can review the full committee charter here.

We are actively seeking new volunteers to join the committee and help advance this vital work! If you are interested in joining the committee and would like to learn more, please contact Emily Wolfe:


HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer©

The HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (HERO Scorecard) V5.0 is now available!

V5.0 incorporates new learnings from industry research, adding practices related to employer involvement in their communities; mental and emotional well-being; social determinants of health; integration with diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a broader value proposition for investment in employee health and well-being. By completing the HERO Scorecard V5.0, your organization will receive an updated assessment of your health and well-being initiatives as they compare to the current, ever-changing marketplace. Visit the HERO website for more information.

A Look into the Discrepancies in Health and Well-being Practices by Organization Size

Health and well-being in the workplace should be a unified and universal goal for all employers. However, much of the research and recommendations on workplace health and well-being best practices are directed towards large organizations (≥5,000 employees). This is an issue if the goal is to improve the health and well-being of all employees in the workforce given that 99.9% of employees work for organizations with <1,000 employees. Data from the HERO Scorecard Version 4.0 were explored to assess the discrepancies in health and well-being practices between small and large organizations. Read the commentary by Emma Upton, HERO intern.


HERO Members: Provide your input on the HERO Research Agenda

HERO is a member driven organization, which is why we are seeking member input on specific research topics your organization would find valuable for HERO to explore. Please complete our member research survey to help us set our research agenda for the next 3 to 5 years.


The Learning Series

Workplace Solutions for Structural Racism and its Health Effects

Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH

June 2, 2021 | 2:30 pm Central

The webinar will provide an overview of the American Heart Association’s presidential advisory on Structural Racism as a driver of health disparities and will provide a discussion of workplace strategies and actions to address structural racism.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez serves as Chief Medical Officer for Prevention for the American Heart Association (AHA). He is the Principal Investigator of the National Hypertension Control Initiative, a control cooperative agreement with the federal Office of Minority Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration. He is the AHA Clinical Lead on Target:BP (a joint blood pressure control initiative with the American Medical Association) and KnowDiabetesbyHeartTM (a joint cardiovascular risk factor control initiative with the American Diabetes Association). He is one of the authors of the AHA Presidential Advisory on Structural Racism and its health effects.


Strategic Health Program Planning in 2021: Tips on building successful, fluid, and flexible plans

Callie Lovato

Callie Lovato, PhD, MPH

June 30, 2021 | 12:00 pm Central

This session will help you identify wellness program goals and align them to your company’s 3- to 5-year plans, point out strategic collaborations to think about, and guide you in the planning & implementation it takes (even during uncertain times!) to succeed at delivering best in class health programs your employees want and need. With Callie Lovato, PhD, Scandia Labs.



Resources and Readings

Changing Hearts and Minds About Institutional Racism (CHAIR)

The Changing Hearts and Minds About Institutional Racism (CHAIR) project is extending the reach and scalability of trusted Black barbers/stylists using human-centered design and innovative technology to catalyze community-driven collective action promoting health and racial equity. Learn about the project put together by Drs. Stephen Thomas, Laura Linnan and HERO.

Community Health and Economic Prosperity: Insights from the Surgeon General’s Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine present a webinar with the senior scientific editors of the 2021 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Community Health and Economic Prosperity. Ursula Bauer (HHS/CDC), Gregory Fairchild (UVA), and Douglas Jutte (Build Healthy Places Network) share findings from the report on May 26, 2021 at 1:30 PM ET.


Civic Engagement and Civic Infrastructure to Advance Health Equity: A Virtual Workshop

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Population Health Improvement is hosting a workshop on June 14-15, 2021. This workshop examines the relationship between civic engagement, population health, and health equity in the United States.

Registration and more information.

The Virtual National Health Equity Summit

The Health Equity Summit is a 4-day virtual forum on practical case studies and solutions for advancing health equity held June 7-10, 2021. Speakers include Ibram X. Kendi, PhD, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Founding Director, Center for Antiracist Research, Boston University; Author, How to be an Antiracist.

Registration and more information.

The War on Truth

HERO’s Summer Think Tank’s Theme is “The employer’s role in plugging the disinformation rabbit hole.” Visit the HERO blog for our reading list on this subject to help us consider our roles as guardians against the growing assaults on science.



Justin Waller

Justin WallerMy name is Justin Waller and I am currently living in Birmingham, Alabama. After I completed my bachelor’s in public health at the University of Alabama, I’ve been working as a OR tech/clinic assistant at a pain physician clinic. Due to COVID-19, elective procedures were stopped, so I had the opportunity to work for my job’s partner company in a scientific lab as a lab technician. I am currently pursuing my Master of Science in health and wellness management at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. I love helping people and am committed to having the opportunity to provide the strategies and tools to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. The moment I discovered HERO’s mission and purpose, I knew I wanted to be part of the team. During my internship, I will be working with the Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being committee and also pursuing topics in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In my free time I enjoy playing golf and spending time with family and friends.

©2024 Health Enhancement Research Organization ‘HERO’


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