National / International News
First up, more on the key indexes were mixed in early trading today following the awful performance of Thursday. Until recently, market participants looked at the stronger dollar buying more oil, pushing the price of energy down and figured these were good things for profits and household budgets. Suddenly, sentiment turns, and the strong dollar and cheap oil are bad things because they underscore the weakness of economies from Europe to Asia. Plus, it's World Mental Health Day, so we thought it would be a useful moment to check in on mental health in the workplace. The CDC estimates that depression alone can cause 200 million lost workdays, costing companies as much as $44 billion every year. And on Sunday, Bolivians go to the polls to vote for president. Evo Morales, is running for a third term and is the favorite to win. In the past decade, Bolivia's been praised for cutting poverty, but it still remains one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. Morales is Boliva's first president of indigenous heritage and a pillar of his leadership has been to improve the lives of indigenous communities, which are a majority.
It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
It’s World Mental Health Day, a good opportunity to check in on mental health in the workplace. The CDC estimates that depression alone can cause 200 million lost workdays annually, costing companies as much as $44 billion every year.
Does that motivate employers to offer more mental health benefits? A 2014 survey from the American Psychological Association found just 45 percent of employees say they get help from employers to meet their mental health needs. But the APA’s Dr. David Ballard—who works with businesses closely—says company attitudes are changing.
“I think we’ve shifted from a lack of awareness and a lack of understanding to a desire to address it, but not always knowing how to do that,” he says
Case in point, Ballard points to the small Wooster, Ohio, company Certified Angus Beef, which may be on the cutting edge of mental health wellness.
Once a month, the firm brings in a clinical psychologist that staff can see on company time. On top of that, Certified Angus Beef offers employees and their family members up to three free visits a year.
“When we really looked at what people struggle with is all the stress, all the life stress,” says the company's director of human resources, Pam Cottrell. She says in three years, utilization of services has tripled.
Ballard says what he likes about the Certified Angus Beef’s approach is that it’s easy, and affordable. The company spends less than $10,000 a year on the benefit.
On Friday, President Barack Obama will declare 346,000 acres of forestland just north of Los Angeles as a national monument.
Supporters hope the move will free up both federal and private money that they say is needed to take better care of the San Gabriel Mountains forest area, a popular recreation destination with millions of visitors a year.
"This national forest is one of the most visited places in the country,” says Daniel Rossman, who as chair of the group San Gabriel Mountains Forever has been working for more than a decade to get more resources for the forestland.
Some who live near the forest have not wanted a monument designation, because they are concerned that it will come with restrictions, such as limits on land use.
But Rossman says the designation is necessary, because the Forest Service has had trouble keeping up with all the trash and pollution that comes with so many visitors.
"I’ve personally done clean-ups, picking up dirty diapers and old pieces of clothing,” Rossman says, adding that the mountains are responsible for 30 percent of the Los Angeles region’s water supply.
California Congresswoman Judy Chu says the president’s executive action will circumvent the current gridlock in Congress.
The monument designation will not only bring more personnel and federal money to the forest, it will also allow for private fundraising, says Chu.
“You can have a private-public partnership. And already we have non-profit and private donations that have been pledged,” Chu says.
The Forest Service will be able to set the privately-raised money aside for the San Gabriel Mountains monument; Something it couldn’t do for a national forest.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Judy Chu had been working on Congressional legislation for more than 10 years. Though she supports the change, she has not been advocating for it for that long.