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New resources for Hoosiers in Recovery, Re-Entering Workforce and employers on overcoming stigmas

Individuals recovering from addiction or with prior justice involvement – or facing mental health challenges in general – can access new, detailed resources at no charge from the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) to help them maintain their current employment or re-enter the workforce. The organization also has support for employers with the latest best practice tools on how they can overcome their own stigma and work toward becoming a recovery-ready employer.

WCI is a subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which has prioritized the health of Hoosier individuals, workplaces and communities through Indiana Prosperity 2035, its recently released long-term visioning plan for the state.

The Recovery at Work video series, a collaboration with Mental Health of America Indiana and the Indiana Department of Health, features a collection of 10 videos that provide a pathway for how to gain confidence, write a resume, fill out an application, interview effectively, ask questions of a prospective employer and more. Firsthand success stories from individuals are another part of the series, which WCI Executive Director Jennifer Pferrer labels as “both informative and encouraging.” One video is also dedicated to employers and what they can do to help their employees and their overall workplace. All the videos are available at

Adds Pferrer, “We believe the right approach is investing in Hoosier health right now – mental and physical well-being – instead of paying down the road when the cost will be even greater.

“The shared goal of the Wellness Council and Indiana Chamber is to continue to take steps in programming and public policy to ensure that communities and their residents are well and can flourish. That’s vital for job attraction, expansion and retention efforts, as businesses need a healthy workforce to keep pace and to grow their own talent pipeline.”

One factor spurring on WCI was the results of its third statewide employer survey, released last year, which revealed limited progress on addiction efforts. Half of the 465 employers that completed the survey reported they did not have set procedures in place if they know somebody is having difficulties with substance misuse or alcohol. Lack of awareness and lingering stigma also persisted.

“It’s important that employers understand the increased positive impact employment has for those individuals who are struggling with their recovery or mental health, or have had justice involvement,” Pferrer offers. “That employment is key to getting them back into the mainstream, building self-esteem and being able to take care of themselves and their families.”

WCI is putting that message to action next month as it kicks off an event series for employers designed to bridge the gaps in workplace mental health and substance use disorder resources. The in-person gatherings are free and held in partnership with the Division of Mental Health and Addiction within Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration.

Pferrer says the goal of the event series is to help employers understand the domino effect stigma has on individuals and workplaces – and, importantly, what they can do about it.

“Employers will gain a real understanding of the vital role they play, what the best practices are for creating supportive policies and procedures, as well as how they can leverage their local resources and programs to help offer that needed employee assistance.”

Dates and locations on the event schedule include Lafayette on April 9, Columbus on April 16, Angola on April 18, Terre Haute on April 23, Warsaw on April 26 and Evansville on May 6.

For more details and to register, visit SHRM and HRCI credits are available for attendees.

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