Emotional Impact of Violence: What Employers Need to Know

Everywhere you look, it’s there. Shootings, mass shootings, workplace shootings. And, whether you are flipping through the news channels, browsing the Internet or simply conversing with colleagues in the lunchroom, it is a topic that often comes up and inevitably inflicts fear. So, with the recent devastation in Orlando and every other horrible story we have heard about in the past few months, it got me thinking—There is so much discussion on the role mental illness plays in these events, but what about the mental and emotional impact it has on the people connected to those involved or even just hearing about the occurrences?

As an employer, you undoubtedly are concerned about the safety of your staff. In fact, in the Foundation’s 2015 Workplace Threats survey, workplace violence was the third most pressing concern among respondents, and for good reason. According to a recent FBI report, 45.6% of active shootings occur at businesses. So you prepare your workplace to prevent the attack and protect your staff. But how are you protecting their mental health when something isn’t directly happening to them?

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act of 2008 requires most plans to cover mental health ailments to the same degree as physical conditions—with copays and deductibles generally no more restrictive than those of medical or surgical benefits. As a result, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the use of mental health benefits is on the rise. However, offering these benefits isn’t always enough. Organizations also have a responsibility to make sure the availability of these benefits is communicated to their employees—even in situations when the need isn’t obvious.

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Webcast, August 18, 2016: Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act: Does Your Plan Comply?


When a tragic event (like a shooting) impacts an organization, ask yourself how your staff may be affected by it. If you’re one of the 80% of organizations that offers an employee assistance program, think about how you can make employees aware of the resources available to them. Whether it’s e-mail reminders, more posters in your lunchroom, or asking managers to bring up mental health benefits in team meetings, acknowledging the emotional impact of such horrific events is critical in helping your staff deal with events even when they happen outside of your walls.

Jennie Cotter
Marketing Communications Specialist at the International Foundation