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Bloomberg Faculty Receive New Grant To Launch First-Ever Center On Workplace Mental Health


Two Bloomberg School faculty, M. Dani Fallin, PhD, chair of the Department of Mental Health and Bloomberg Centennial Professor, and Meghan Davis, DVM, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, have received funding from The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety to launch a new Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new funding on September 16.

The first center of its kind, the Johns Hopkins Psychosocial Organizational, and Environmental Total Worker Health® Center in Mental Health (POE Center) will focus exclusively on improving the mental health of the nation’s workforce through research collaborations, outreach, and training. It is among ten other centers nationwide that build evidence-based solutions to complex occupational safety and employee-related health problems.

“Mental health has become an increasingly important focus of public health officials since the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Fallin. “The majority of our years are spent working. If we truly want to make an impact on mental health, we must prioritize employee mental health.”

Fallin and Davis will serve as co-Principal Investigators, joined by a large team across the Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health, Medicine, Business, and Nursing. The center has received first year funding of $1.4 million, with the potential for total funding of $6.9 million over five years.

Recent research shows that mental and behavioral disorders impact 1 in 5 Americans and are one of the costliest illnesses in the United States at over $200 billion dollars per year as of 2019. Among employees, individuals who suffer from depression miss between six to 25 more days per year and have an impaired performance between 13 percent to 29 percent of the time at work. Improvements to workers’ mental health can impact productivity, home life, relationships with family, friends, and more.

In collaboration with businesses, professional organizations, providers, and government organizations, the POE Center will focus efforts on three new projects.

  • HC-WORK, a project focused on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers including clinicians, administrative support, environmental services support workers, and other staff in the healthcare industry.
  • HOME-WORK, will focus on the mental health outcomes and new workplace exposures on a work-from-home setting and engages with the Office of Well-Being at the Johns Hopkins University.
  • CoV-WORK, will focus on understanding the challenges to essential employees’ wellbeing and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new center is also collaborating with the Luv u Project, an organization focused on mental health, to address the need for an academic home for research, translation, evaluation, and dissemination of workplace mental health programs.

The center will also focus on the mental health of veterinary and animal care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School.

 “We are at a historic moment in time where the workplace will never return to what it was before the pandemic,” says Fallin. “This new Center is on the cutting edge of how we view workplace mental health going forward.”