NIU receives $158,531 from U.S. Department of Labor grant for Workplace Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Training

Northern Illinois University received $158,531 in U.S. Department of Labor funding to promote workplace safety, health training and education. With this grant, employers and employees without high amounts of funding can receive free mental health and suicide prevention training. This will be targeted towards small businesses, as well as at-risk and hard-to-reach workers in the general and construction industries.

The upcoming courses will be administered by OSHA-Authorized Outreach Trainer John Newquist, who states, “I am so glad that NIU received this grant because it is an area that nobody tends to talk about. It affects everyone from the employee themself down to their family and friends. We hope to provide everyone the necessary tools to help handle tough issues and skills to overall improve mental health.”

This is the sixth year that NIU has received the Susan Harwood Federal Safety and Health Training Grant and is offering free courses through its Continuing and Professional Education Unit, in partnership with the National Safety Education Center, also housed at NIU. Training topics include the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of mental health stressors.

Pettee Borissova, an NIU alumna and Director of NIU Continuing and Professional Education, strongly believes it is imperative to support and educate our region’s employees on mental health.

“As a double NIU alumna and now a university employee, my journey has instilled in me a deep connection to our community,” Borissova says. “Our targeted training aims at empowering employers and employees in new businesses, as well as those with limited access to occupational safety and health training. The focus on mental health stressors underscores our commitment to well-being and empowerment. Through a blend of classroom-based and virtual instruction, we strive to make this training accessible to all, contributing to the resilience and success of businesses in our community.”

Male construction worker with hands on head showing that he is under stres and may need mental health and suicide prevention training.

The training will be two-hour to four-hour long sessions in a balanced blend of classroom-based instruction in the NIU CPE’s state-of-the-art classrooms and will begin in 2024. Virtual and face-to-face training will be available, along with on-site delivery. Employees from all geographic areas will be welcome. Training will be delivered in English.

The Construction Safety Council, located in Hillside, IL, was also amongst the recipients of the 2023 grant. The Construction Safety Council partners with Northern Illinois University to create the National Safety Education Center, an OSHA Training Institute Education Center. They received $120,165 to offer free excavation/trenching courses in English and Spanish. Their training courses will be focused on mitigating the risks accompanying excavation and trenching operations.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Department of Labor announced the award in a press release on September 19, 2023, stating that “The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has awarded approximately $12.7 million in grants to 100 non-profit organizations across the nation to support education and training to help workers and employers recognize serious workplace hazards, employ injury prevention and understand workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under federal law.”

These grants are provided to help make the nation’s workplaces safer and honor the legacy of Dr. Harwood and her assistance in creating federal standards in occupational safety.

Learn more about the 2023 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients.

About NIU Continuing and Professional Education

Northern Illinois University Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) offers a variety of non-credit, professional development and certification prep courses that are held in-person and online. Services include program courses that are instructor-led or self-paced, online bootcamps, custom courses for businesses, and free courses that anyone can attend. CPE also partners with OSHA to deliver OSHA training courses through the National Safety Education Center. Our innovative and iterative noncredit programs are designed to help professionals grow their careers.

About the National Safety Education Center

The National Safety Education Center (NSEC) at Northern Illinois University is one of 26 OSHA Training Institute Education Centers in the nation. These education centers are a national network of non-profit organizations authorized by OSHA to deliver occupational safety and health training to public and private sector workers, supervisors and employers. This consortium, which consists of Northern Illinois University and the Construction Safety Council, offers the best hands-on safety training with OSHA training locations in OSHA’s Region 5.

Learn more about the current free, grant funded, mental health and suicide prevention courses available here.