Martha Shepherd, DO, MPH, joined the miniVHAN podcast for a recent episode to discuss mental wellness and whole person care through the lens of her role as medical director for Vanderbilt Health at Metro Nashville Public Schools. She touches on the benefits to employees when their employers provide access to wellness tools to proactively address stress, sleep, nutrition, exercise and social connection.
She mentions how employer investment in manager training, particularly around mental health, can bolster the overall culture of an organization. "Some resources come to mind like mental health first aid, things that help managers identify and respond to signs of mental illness or substance abuse in employees," she says. "Employers can do things like modeling being off when you're off—not having that expectation that people are going to answer emails and phone calls—and having flexible work arrangements. At the end of the day, investing in employees in all these ways really pays off."
Shepherd said that she is often asked if MNPS's investment in benefits is sustainable. "They wonder if they're going to invest in these people and then they're going to leave. And I want to ask them, “Well, what if you don't invest in them and they stay?” So, a lot of times with our teachers, if they make it past year three, they're going to be with MNPS for life. So it's a strong investment. For us, healthy teachers are happier teachers. That has a ripple effect on our community."
Click this link to listen to the episode, which was part of an entire "Behavioral Health Through the Lifespan" series aimed at bolstering mental health awareness and education. (Dr. Shepherd's segment starts at 0:24.)
During the series, expert guests offered insights for understanding and coping with anxiety and depression, neurodiversity, trauma and grief. If you’ve missed any of the episodes, catch up on miniVHANpodcast.com.