University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Woman sits at computer looking at Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course presentation

Thousands enrolled during first year of USF’s mental health in the workplace course

More than 4,500 professionals from some of the nation’s top companies, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Johnson & Johnson, enrolled in the first year of USF’s Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course. The free course developed by the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences in collaboration with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay empowers business leaders to build healthy and engaged teams by teaching them how to approach common challenges related to mental and behavioral health and addiction in the workplace and provides insight on how to support employees.

A diverse group of participants have taken part in the course, with initial registrants representing 69 countries, all 50 states and every branch of the U.S. military.

Ginger Swanson

Ginger Swanson

Ginger Swanson, grant project coordinator at CareerSource Suncoast, learned about the Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course through her involvement with LIVE Tampa Bay and the organization’s efforts to educate human resource professionals about early warning signs of opioid abuse. She says she was inspired by a panelist who shared her experience speaking openly with employees.

“She said, ‘If you can't address the elephant in the room, you'll address it in turnover.’ That stood out to me,” Swanson said. “It made me realize how important it is to create an environment where we listen and make our co-workers feel like they can express their struggles without negative repercussions.”

Upon completion of the course, Swanson earned a certificate and digital badge offered by the USF Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education. She proudly displays the digital badge in her email signature and on her LinkedIn profile. Since she began talking about the course at work, Swanson says seven of her partners in the human resources profession have enrolled.

Course panel discussion

Led by faculty and industry experts, sessions in the Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course feature executive coaches, intervention specialists and individuals who share personal experiences related to their own mental health. The course also includes guests from organizations and corporations such as Tampa Electric, Bealls and USAA, along with USF faculty and staff. These experts explain that today’s employees need – and expect – healthy workplaces.

“The average employed American spends more time working than any other activity aside from sleeping, which makes the workplace an important space for addressing mental health and a space that is severely impacted by issues related to mental health, behavioral health and addiction,” said Julie Serovich, dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. “By participating in the Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course, business leaders are demonstrating they understand that a healthy and happy workforce is also a productive one.”

Other reflections from participants included the impact of sessions related to stigma and the power of language, the effect of environment on mental health, signs of struggle and how to communicate support. Many also deeply valued the personal experiences shared by speakers.

The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences has made addressing mental and behavioral health part as of its mission since its inception, but the topic has more recently become a priority for business leaders. Over the past year, Serovich has traveled across Florida speaking with members of state and local chambers of commerce, legislative committees and at training events for private and public organizations.

“They would hear about our course and wonder why we are offering it for free to anyone who wants to take it,” Serovich said. “We believe in the importance of this course so much that we invested our time and expertise. You could tell that people were impacted by that.”

The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences was selected this year as the home of the Florida Center for Behavioral Health Workforce, which will enhance recruitment and retention efforts and expand pathways to behavioral health professions. This new center joins the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at USF – which serves as the conduit between academic researchers, community organizations and government agencies – in strengthening mental health services in Florida through research, training and education.

In addition to the thousands who have enrolled in the Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course independently, an abbreviated version of the course, Campus Mental Health & Wellness, is now part of the onboarding process for all new USF employees and available to all faculty and staff through the Canvas catalog. This training provides an understanding of common mental health, behavioral health, and addiction issues that may be seen on campus and guides faculty and staff to resources that are available on campus and within the community.

The USF Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace course is free to the public, self-paced and 100% online. The course continues to grow, welcoming an average of 50 new students each month. The opportunity to earn a certificate and digital badge is also available for a fee. Information on how to register can be found here.

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About College of Behavioral & Community Sciences News

The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.