Wellness in the workplace



June 2, 2023



labrynth-angel-valley-by-erica-lippyThe month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month, however, it’s an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed continuously — not just in one calendar month.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five Americans live with a mental health condition. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue has been exasperated. Experts in the field of mental health have acknowledged that it is okay to not be okay. They suggest that now is the time to focus on healing, reach out for help and support and connect with experienced healthcare workers who can assist in a moment of trauma and despair. 


We encourage our local businesses to be proactive in contributing to the wellness of their employees in the workplace. Arizona’s Department of Administration offers programs for businesses and their employees and may be a great resource. To find out more, contact ADA at wellness@azdoa.gov. We commend our businesses who make a commitment to uncover workplace disparities, promote meaningful change and develop resources to address the mental health needs of their employees.


I would like to applaud the efforts of our healthcare providers in addition to those whose leadership should not be overlooked.


Kudos goes to Executive Director of the Sedona International Film Festival, Patrick Schweiss who took the initiative of bringing not one, but two, one-person plays to our community for Mental Health Awareness Month. “Every Brilliant Thing,” starring actor Michael Doherty dealt with the issue of suicide and “Bipolar and the English Channel,” a true story written and performed by Julie Ridge, who shared her first-hand experiences with bipolar disorder. Both plays were performed at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Additionally, “Every Brilliant Thing,” was performed throughout the Verde Valley at Sedona Red Rock High School, Verde Valley School, Mingus Union High School and Camp Verde High School.


Schweiss noted that the subject of mental health affects more people and families than we realize.


According to Health First Foundation of Northern Arizona, our state has a high suicide rate and the counties within Northern Arizona have some of the highest rates in the nation. Accidental deaths and drug overdose deaths also rank high.


In a 2022 Yavapai County community health survey, 42% of the respondents noted that their mental health was fair or poor. Nearly 10% said that their top health challenge was mental health. Respondents were asked to identify what they felt are the top health challenges faced by children in Yavapai County. They reported: Not enough play, bullying and mental health.


Health First Foundation has been a leading supporter of Mental Health First Aid in our region. This summer, they will sponsor one, possibly two Mental Health First Aid training courses in Sedona. The dates and locations have not yet been announced, and they will be free of charge. Anyone interested in attending can call or email the foundation at (928) 223-9250 or foundation@healthfirstforall.org.


The health and safety of our family, friends and employees are essential and should not be overlooked. It behooves us to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and support those in need as quickly as possible. Keep an eye out for Health First Foundation’s training programs. We encourage you to sign-up and attend.


I would like to thank our healthcare professionals, Health First Foundation and Patrick Schweiss for being proactive in creating awareness and helping our community to develop ways in which to combat these devastating issues. It’s important that we join together and support those in need.


Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau