(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Wellness Council of Indiana, a subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, has been awarded a $125,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for the Indiana Workforce Recovery initiative and its efforts to end substance use disorder in the workplace.

The grant will go toward the promotion of workplace substance misuse awareness, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery.

“The support of partners like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is what allows us to deliver groundbreaking education free-of-charge to employers across the state. We applaud them for their continued dedication to the health of Indiana’s workplaces,” offers Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Jennifer Pferrer.

“For 75 years Anthem been committed to improving the health of Indiana communities,” said Rob Hillman, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. “In the face of the opioid epidemic, we have been a leader in supporting policy changes that help prevent opioid use disorder, as well as policies that help consumers gain better access to treatment. We are pleased to partner with the Wellness Council of Indiana to provide education and resources that will empower employers to tackle this issue in the workplace.”

Indiana Workforce Recovery is a joint initiative among the Wellness Council of Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration and was established in February 2018. The goal of the initiative is to prepare Hoosier employers to deal with public health crises that impact the Indiana workforce.

One of the Indiana Workforce Recovery efforts supported by the grant is an employer opioid strategy series, which will consist of nine employer-focused events from January to April. While there have been a significant number of events around the state focused on the impact of opioid use disorder and substance use disorder on Indiana communities, these gatherings will be the first to focus exclusively on solution-oriented best practices for employers.

The first opioid strategy event is in Terre Haute on January 29, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Ivy Tech at 8000 S. Education Drive. Other locations and dates for the series:

  • Fort Wayne, February 12
  • Northwest Indianapolis, February 19
  • Northeast Indianapolis, March 5
  • Downtown Indianapolis, March 12
  • Plainfield, March 19
  • Lafayette, March 21
  • Greenwood, April 3
  • Bloomington, April 4

Employers are invited to attend the free meetings, which will cover topics such as the science of substance use disorder, stories of recovery, legal guidance on drug-free workplace policies, how to detect use among employees, as well as an optional naloxone training session to learn how and when to use the opioid overdose reversal drug. Connections to local treatment and recovery efforts will also be emphasized. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Mike Thibideau, director of Indiana Workforce Recovery, notes that of the Hoosiers with substance use disorder, up to 70% are part of the workforce.

“It’s very important for employers to educate themselves on how to mitigate the short-term impact of the opioid epidemic on their workplace, while building an environment that in the long-term helps them hire and retain a talented and dependable workforce,” he stresses.

“We also want employers to know what to do if an employee is struggling and how to get them connected to the help they need. All of these efforts are critical.”

Employer convenings are hosted by the Wellness Council of Indiana and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and presented by Purdue Pharma, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

All the employer convenings in the Indianapolis area are presented in partnership with the Indy Chamber.

To learn about the events or how to participate as an exhibitor, contact Thibideau at mthibideau@indianachamber.com or (317) 264-2166.

Visit www.wellnessindiana.org/recovery for more information on Indiana Workforce Recovery.

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The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”

The Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) works collaboratively to positively impact the economic vitality of the state of Indiana by evaluating and guiding workplaces and communities through the development of their own comprehensive health and wellness strategy. WCI members and staff inspire active living, community engagement and corporate social responsibility.