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Workplace Resilience in the Aftermath of COVID-19 

Facilitating Economic Recovery by Supporting Workplace Mental Health

June 24, 2021

9:30am - 2:30pm CST

Virtual Conference



There is no disputing the fact that workforce mental health will be a central component of economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, employee mental health challenges had a huge impact on productivity due to factors such as absenteeism, diminished capacity to focus and complete tasks, and challenges working collaboratively due to emotional dysregulation. There is now clear evidence that the pandemic has created significant distress among the American workforce due to the grief associated with the large number of deaths, isolation associated with social distancing, fears of exposure to the virus among those who cannot work remotely, escalating financial distress, and the reported mental fog experienced by many who are recovering from the virus. 

As the recovery inches forward, employers will need to play an active role in facilitating the development of coping skills to manage these mental health challenges. Because people spend so much of their time at work, employers are in a unique position to actively promote wellbeing through strategic health coverage decisions,    increasing managers’ awareness of the signs of mental health distress, and facilitating a workplace culture that attends to the needs of vulnerable employees. Research shows that promoting employee mental health has a positive return on investment that grows over time.

Conference focused on sharing policies and practices that can increase the likelihood that employees will experience mental health promoting supports through their workplace



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Framework for Trauma-Informed Workplace Resilience

Changing the Mental Health System: Eliminating Discrimination and Enacting Policy

Creating Caring Workplaces: Workplace Wellness and Organizational Practices that Support Wellbeing and Build Resilience

Lunch Break

The Mental Health Effects of Hate Crimes, Employer Responsibilities and the Workplace Culture that Can Facilitate Resilience

Closing Discussion & Collaboration Opportunities

Panel 1:     10:00am - 11:00am CST      (11:00am - 12:00pm EST)

Changing the Mental Health System: Eliminating Discrimination and Enacting Policy

Mental health is essential to overall health, and everyone deserves access to appropriate mental healthcare. Too often insurance companies do not live up to a Federal and State law that requires insurers treat mental health claims on par—or at parity—as your physical health claims. Join our panel of experts and people with lived experience who can discuss the importance of this law and how we are working to change the way people receive access to mental healthcare. Click on image below to view video of the panel. 




Raymon Troncoso

Journalist, The State Journal Register

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David Applegate

Policy Director, The Kennedy Forum Illinois

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Alice Feldman

Mental Health Advocate and person with lived experience

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Dr. Wanda Parker

Vice President of Clinical & Therapeutic Services at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness

Panel 2:     11:15am - 12:15pm CST      (12:15pm - 1:15pm EST)

Creating Caring Workplaces: Workplace Wellness and Organizational Practices that Support Wellbeing and Build Resilience

Research shows that listening to individuals who have experienced hardship plays an important role in building trusting relationships, in validating and acknowledging lived experience, and ultimately in building resilience. Our panel is an opportunity to listen to a range of lived experiences as panelists discuss work and wellbeing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our panel addresses techniques and strategies implemented to support workplace and community wellness. Click on image below to view video of the panel. 



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Alexa James

Chief Executive Officer of NAMI Chicago since 2014. Alexa has made NAMI Chicago the leading voice on mental wellness in Chicago and beyond.


Ronisha Edwards-Elliot

Community Outreach Coordinator, NAMI Chicago. Ronisha focuses her work on bridging the gap within the healthcare and mental health system.


Maggie Gough

Member Liaison, WELCOA. Maggie has over 15 years of experience in corporate wellness serving a variety of populations.


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Kathryn Bocanegra

Assistant Professor at Jane Addams College of Social Work at University of Illinois Chicago. She also serves as Senior Advisor to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on violence prevention issues.

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Pooja Nagpal

In-home Recovery Support Provider, NAMI Chicago. Pooja is a first-generation Indian-American who uses her story and journey to inspire adults to take ownership of their mental health and recovery.

Panel 3:     1:00pm - 2:00pm CST      (2:00pm - 3:00pm EST)

The Mental Health Effects of Hate Crimes, Employer Responsibilities, and the Workplace Culture that Can Facilitate Resilience

Public racial and ethnic hate incidents occurring in the US cannot be ignored by leaders of organizations—not the CEO, human resources staff, senior managers, or direct supervisors. This is because public hate incidents have negative mental health effects that carry over into the workplace. When people feel psychologically, emotionally, and physically unsafe and vulnerable in the broader society they need to know that their workplace will speak up on their behalf to validate their worth and value to the company and the country. Research informs us that how organizations respond (or not) to public hate incidents affects how racially and ethnically marginalized employees feel about their level of trust in their employer. Panelists will discuss how workplace culture can respond to the ways that employees who are members of marginalized groups are affected by incidences of bias and hate occurring outside their corporate doors. Click on image below to view video of the panel. 



Joel Jackson

 Joel Jackson

Director of Inclusion and Equity Strategies,  UChicago Medicine. Joel also serves as a Racial Healing Practitioner and co-facilitates Racial Healing Circles across Chicagoland.

Danielle King

Danielle King

Assistant Professor at Rice University. Danielle's research centers on the topics of workplace resilience, identity intersectionality and authenticity, and employee voice.


Royce Lee

Associate Professor, UChicago Medicine. Royce is a board-certified psychiatrist with special interest in workplace wellness and resilience.

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Jorge Mujica

Strategic Campaigns Organizer, ARISE Chicago. Jorge collaborates with workers organizing for long-term workplace improvements. He has worked extensively in the United States and Mexico.

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