This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS – A two-day conference focusing on wellness in the workplace will kick off at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Wednesday.

The summit will be co-hosted by the Wellness Council of Indiana and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Various topics will be discussed during the two-day conference, but mental health will be a major focus.

The organizers say the pandemic amplified the discussion around many issues that grew during the pandemic, including drug and alcohol abuse, depression, burnout, and more.

“We want to convene employers to help navigate these really challenging and difficult times for employee health and well-being,” said Jennifer Pferrer, executive director for the Wellness Council of Indiana.

The summit will stress the importance of improving mental and physical health.

“You cannot have great physical health if you don’t have great mental health,” Pferrer said. “We show up every day to work with responsibilities that we have in our life. The pandemic has helped us understand that the employees are struggling.”

Organizers say employers have an obligation to providing a safe and health environment for their workers.

“In Indiana, the life expectancy is two years less than the national average,” Pferrer described. “As an employer you have a very important role in helping individuals get access to healthcare. We want employers to understand that they do have a role and they do have support and assistance and partners to help them navigate this very complicated situation.”

The summit will include discussion around many of the issues brought on during the pandemic, as well as discussion on strategies to help deal with many of these problems.

“Just by providing some tools and education we can improve that,” Pferrer said. “Our role as the Wellness Council is to improve the overall health of the state of Indiana so employers don’t have to bear the cost and responsibility of that.”

The Wellness Council says many businesses and companies have taken additional steps in the last few years, such as introducing on-sight health clinics to increase access to care.

“Employers have really come a long way understanding that they have a responsibility to allow their employees access to this healthcare, and most employers have amazing resources through their benefit plan,” Pferrer said.

Pferrer said even if you do not plan to attend the summit, she encourages people struggling with any health or mental health issues to reach out to their employers to see what kind of benefits and resources might be available to them.

“An employee assistance program can be a great place for someone to start a conversation with somebody to help them with their mental health struggles that they are having,” she said. “If someone is really struggling the state of Indiana has done an amazing job, and calling 211 is a great place to get those resources you might not have available to you or you might not think that you have available to you.”

If you are interested in attending the event, you can register online. The cost is $449 for Indiana Chamber or WCI members or $549 for non-members. Single day registrations are $349 or $449, respectively.