Mental Health Awareness Month: Addressing Substance Use Disorders in the Workplace

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For Employers
3 min read


Established in May 1949 by Mental Health America, Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. At Pelago, we recognize the critical intersection of mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs), particularly in the workplace. As the leading digital clinic for substance use management, we’re committed to providing comprehensive support to employers and their HR and benefits teams.

Recent statistics highlight the urgency of addressing mental health and SUDs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2022 approximately 49 million Americans aged 12 or older had an SUD in the past year. This includes a significant portion of the workforce. Mental health issues often co-occur with substance use, creating complex challenges that require integrated treatment approaches.

Pelago’s Role in Transforming Substance Use Management

At Pelago, we understand that mental health is as crucial as physical health, and our approach reflects this. We offer personalized treatment plans that address multiple substances, including tobacco, alcohol, opioids and cannabis. The addition of cannabis use disorder to our treatment options comes at a critical time, as both usage rates and the need for effective treatment solutions are on the rise.

Our substance use management program is truly integrated, designed to function seamlessly with employers’ health plans, providing accessible, effective, and confidential care. Our program includes:

  • A digital front door with comprehensive assessment 
  • A first appointment within 24 hours, averaging just 4.5 hours to the first session
  • Nationwide access to medication assisted treatment

By leveraging cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted treatment, we help individuals manage their substance use and related mental health conditions, promoting healthier lifestyles and more productive work environments.

The Impact of SUDs in the Workplace

Substance use disorders can significantly affect workplace safety, productivity, and healthcare costs. Employers play a vital role in addressing these challenges. By partnering with Pelago, employers can provide their teams with the necessary tools to manage and overcome SUDs.

At Pelago, we make SUD-first care accessible and produce comparable clinical outcomes among those with co-occurring mental health problems compared to individuals with an SUD only. We’ve been able to achieve this through a deep understanding of how to detect and treat these individuals using evidence-based care built on a model aligned with principles of integrated treatment.

In addition to gold-standard integrated treatment, best practices for SUD treatment success include dedicated holistic care and personalized interventions.

A dedicated SUM program is designed to address substance use issues specifically, whereas mental health-first programs and employee assistance programs tend to have a broader focus. Substance use-first programs, on the other hand, provide tailored interventions based on the specific needs of employees, such as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted treatment. This personalized approach increases the likelihood of successful outcomes and ensures that each member receives care tailored to their specific needs, enhancing overall well-being and work performance.

Pelago’s Commitment 

This Mental Health Awareness Month, Pelago is dedicated to enhancing awareness and understanding of mental health and SUDs. We encourage employers to recognize the signs of these conditions and to understand the profound impact they can have on individuals and their work. Our goal is to foster environments where employees feel safe, supported, and have access to the resources they need to thrive.

We invite all employers to join us in this important cause. By focusing on mental health and substance use management, we can create healthier workplaces and communities. Together, we can reduce the stigma associated with these disorders and provide a pathway to recovery for millions.

To learn more about the relationship of mental health to SUDs and the importance of an SUD-first approach, check out our blog post on Closing the Gap in Substance Use Care. For more information on how substance use management can help your organization, read An introduction to substance use management.

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