New York City Drug Free School Zone Sign

Red Ribbon Week and Bullying Prevention Month – Healthy Kids, Healthy Parents
Today begins Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, the annual drug use prevention awareness week sponsored by the Red Ribbon Campaign.  This week historically began as a grassroots effort to honor the work of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Agent Enrique (Kiki) Camarena, who was murdered in the line of duty in 1985. Camarena’s friends and neighbors began to wear red satin badges in his honor. The National Family Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to educating and encouraging parents about their role in drug use prevention, organizes the Red Ribbon campaigns to raise awareness for their cause. From the group’s website: “The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign® is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a DRUG – FREE AMERICA.”

While this cause is important to the health of our communities, this is a corporate wellness blog. What’s the connection? Employees are parents and caregivers, too. Healthy, happy kids = healthy, happy parents = healthy, happy, productive employees. For companies that claim their employees are their greatest asset, providing the resources for employees’ well-being beyond health insurance benefits is essential. For resources on starting the conversation about drug use prevention, see the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids website.

October is also National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Now, when most people think bullying, they think of the schoolyard and locker room bullying of primary school (if you’re lucky enough to have avoided getting picked on). However, workplace bullying is a serious problem. Does your company have a policy against harassment (hint: they better!)? Bullying and other unwanted aggressive behaviours happen both in school and at the office. Studies show that both youth and adult victims of bullying may turn to substances to escape the anguish.

It’s 3 PM. Do you know your EAP provider’s number?
HR, have you advertised your company’s EAP resources to help employees seek work-life issues support? Making sure your employees know that the company understands they are whole beings with lives and families can go a long way towards increasing retention and keeping company culture positive.

When your employees are stressing out about their child who keeps coming home from school with tales of bullying, or there’s an employee harassment case brewing between individuals in a department, what can you, as HR, do? Get an EAP. Have education sessions on how to use it. See what mental health resources your health insurance plan(s) cover and make employees aware of what their benefits entail. (Just because you provided that summary plan description doesn’t mean they actually read it.) Let them know they’re not alone to find the help they (and their family) need.

Resources:

Red Ribbon Week
Character.org
ProSential Group webinar on workplace harassment

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