During the 2010 Mississippi Legislative Session, Senate Bill 2646 was passed, creating the State Employee Wellness Program (SEWP) and becoming law 41-97-9 in the MS Code of 1972. The SEWP is intended for all state employees that participate in the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan and is administered by the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Preventive Health.
The program has a mission to educate on the most costly and prevalent health care claims, including information addressing lifestyle factors, chemical use, physical activity, healthy eating, and disease prevention.
The SEWP encourages state agencies to utilize and promote policy, environmental and worksite system changes that encourage employees to make healthy choices and adopt healthy behaviors. Some health policy examples to encourage healthy living include the promotion of tobacco-free workplaces; providing adequate breastfeeding facilities for working mothers at the workplace and healthy catering for meetings/events. Some environmental change strategies include the promotion of healthy food options in vending machines, fitness rooms, stairwell promotion, and walking trails/routes.
State Agency Wellness Champions and Councils
The State Employee Wellness Program requires each state entity to designate an employee to serve as the “wellness champion or wellness liaison” between the agency and the State Employee Wellness Program Director.
Wellness Champion Responsibilities
- Coordinate available resources to educate employees about making healthier lifestyle and wellness choices.
- Organize activities to assist employees in learning new skills to reach their personal health goals.
- Attend State Employee Wellness Program learning opportunities, including webinars, trainings, and conferences.
- Work with agency leadership to provide a supportive work environment to assist employees in reducing negative health behaviors.
- Conduct an annual needs assessment to align worksite wellness activities to employee needs.
- Annually report progress toward a comprehensive model worksite wellness program to the State Employee Wellness Program Director.
Wellness Champions are also responsible for the development of a wellness council composed of employees and managers of their respective agency to implement a wellness program based on best practices. Key steps in creating a wellness committee are to:
- Define the wellness committee’s composition
- Recruit members
- Establish committee procedures and ground rules
- Gain leadership support
Refer to the toolkits available in the resources section for additional strategies in organizing and managing an effective wellness committee.
The Model Program
The Mississippi State Employee Wellness Program uses the CDC Healthy Workplace Model as the system for state agencies to improve the health and wellness of state employees. This model focuses on a coordinated, systematic and comprehensive approach to establishing worksite wellness programs centered on:
The CDC Health Score Card
The CDC Health ScoreCard (HSC) is used by the State Employee Wellness Program to monitor worksite practices, create best practice benchmarks, and track improvements in health promotion programs in state agencies over time. This information can help health departments to support employers more effectively. Not only state agencies, but any employer, business or coalition can use this tool to create healthier workplaces. Worksite-specific benchmark reports will help you see how your worksite’s scores compare with the average scores of all registered worksites, worksites in the same size category as yours, and worksites that report to your employer (“sibling” worksites). The online system for the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard (HSC) will keep a record of all scorecards (submitted annually) for your worksite so that you can easily track your progress over time.