ICYMI: Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth Hosted Roundtable Discussion on the Importance of Mental Health Care in the Business Community
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PORTSMOUTH – The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth partnered with NAMI New Hampshire to host a roundtable discussion on June 9 to elevate the importance of mental health resources available to employers and their employees and families in Portsmouth and throughout New Hampshire.
The hour-long roundtable discussion was moderated by shown below, from left: Ben VanCamp, chief collaborator and president of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth and participants included Susan Stearns, executive director, NAMI New Hampshire; Justin Looser, New Hampshire administrative market director of Behavioral Health for HCA Healthcare – Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Parkland Medical Center in Derry, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester; and Dennis Walker, LICSW, vice president of Clinical Operations – Emergency Services and Intake, Seacoast Mental Health Center.
As the workforce returns to the workplace after the challenges of the past two years, along with general increased awareness, have prompted many employers to consider strategies to support their employees’ mental health and workplace wellbeing. A wide range of Seacoast employers, from restaurants to banks, and local elected officials, including Portsmouth City Manager Karen Conard and Portsmouth City Councilor Kate Cook, attended the event.
VanCamp said the business community is recognizing the role of the workplace as it relates to addressing the mental health crisis and how employers are making it a priority to support mental health, help provide access to mental health resources and treatment, and reduce workplace stigma around the issue.
Susan Stearns, Executive Director, NAMI New Hampshire highlighted her observations and experience around the mental health implications of employees returning to work and innovative solutions to support employees. She said, “What really gives me hope are discussions like this one. People [and employers] are having these conversations. This is a need. This is a chance to seize an opportunity to create a new culture around mental health.”
Justin Looser, New Hampshire Administrative Market Director of Behavioral Health for HCA Healthcare – Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Parkland Medical Center in Derry, and Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester offered insight based on his experience with mental health, particularly over the past two years, and the services, resources and support available at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. Looser said, “COVID has put a remarkable amount of stress on everybody within the healthcare industry – especially those who work in the emergency departments in hospitals and providers who treat patients with COVID – it has been very hard for all organizations to figure out.”
Looser also highlighted ways Portsmouth Regional Hospital supports the mental health of their employees and how HCA Healthcare prioritizes employee engagement. He said, “We’ve just started to institute a Code Lavender. Anyone who is familiar with healthcare, you’ve heard a number of different codes: code red, code grey for behavioral health. Code Lavender is what we've instituted for when an employee or employees are going through a stressful situation. We can quietly call a ‘code lavender’ overhead to our trained response team and one or two people will sit and meet with that employee to figure out how we can best address their issues.”
Dennis Walker, LICSW, Vice President of Clinical Operations – Emergency Services and Intake, Seacoast Mental Health Center said how the N.H. workforce continues to struggle and mental health is a key priority for both employees and employers. Walker stated, “If you're a business leader, you have to understand that we are in unprecedented times when it comes to mental health. As leaders, you have to understand that it is very, very likely that the people working for you are suffering in some way. How we talk about mental health issues, how empathetic we are, how much we listen, is going to pay huge dividends on your businesses.”
Walker also highlighted the state’s focus on improving and investing in mental health services and resources. He emphasized how the power of collaboration with partners, like NAMI New Hampshire and Portsmouth Regional Hospital, have been beneficial to the Seacoast region and beyond. The participants also highlighted resources and programs their organizations offered and encouraged employers to learn more the services offered with the new mobile crisis units in New Hampshire and provided the 24/7 behavioral health crisis line: (833) 710-6477.
The participants offered their hopes around our ability to overcome the challenges and stigma around mental illness. VanCamp ended the discussion by saying, “Hopefully this is another step forward on your journey to understanding this topic more and knowing the resources available for you, your families, coworkers and employees.”
- To learn more about NAMI New Hampshire and the recourses and programs offered, CLICK HERE.
- To learn more about Portsmouth Regional Hospital and the recourses and programs offered, CLICK HERE.
- To learn more about the Seacoast Mental Health Center and the recourses and programs offered, CLICK HERE.
- To learn more or contact the New Hampshire Rapid Response Access Point call the 24/7 crisis line at (833) 710-6477 or visit NH988.com.
About The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth: The Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth is the business collective of the greater Portsmouth community. The chamber’s mission is to lead the greater Portsmouth business community as a convener of people, businesses and organizations, through communication, education, support, advocacy and cooperative opportunities. To learn more about the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, visit our website.