Telehealth concept Notsurprisingly, we can expect virtual and tele-behavioral health toplay a larger role in employers' mental health strategies. (Photo:Shutterstock)

|

For months now, we've heard about "flattening the curve"–slowingthe number of COVID-19 cases to prevent health care systems frombeing overwhelmed. Now, we're beginning to hear more about a newcurve that will need flattening: the mental health curve. Socialdistancing and isolation, job losses, illnesses–the completedisruption in Americans' daily lives has taken a heavy toll. And aswe attempt to return to a "normal" that will never look like lifepre-COVID, the role of mental health resources is going to becrucial.

|

According to a recent survey from Teledoc, 47% of Americanssay their mental health has been negatively impacted by theCOVID-19 pandemic (that number rises to 61% among laid off orfurloughed workers), but only 27% say their employers are beingproactive about providing mental health resources.

|

Related: COVID-19 is taking a toll on mental health amongAmericans

|

"This pandemic has further highlighted the access gaps and needfor widespread mental health care. Our providers are hearing alouder voice for mental health support than ever before,particularly in young people," said Dr. Gustavo Kinrys, Teladoc'smedical director and vice president of mental health services,Teladoc.

|

During Mental Health Awareness month, employers should ensure toset aside some time to take a look at their current mental healthofferings and bolster their resources to help employees combatCOVID-related stress. Not surprisingly, Teledoc expects virtualmental health visits to become a bigger part of employers' mentalhealth strategy in the coming months.

|

For employers looking to add digital resources to their mentalhealth strategy, the Northeast Business Group, working with OneMind PsyberGuide, has created a new resource, "Digital Tools and Solutions for Mental Health." Theguide includes more than two dozen digital health resourcesemployers can employ to meet the needs of their workforce, whereverthey're currently working.

|

"Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionizetreatment for mental health conditions," said Dr. MarkCunningham-Hill, medical director at Northeast Business Group. "Wedeveloped this resource guide to arm employers with the informationthey need to make the right decision for their organization andemployees. With the country now in the midst of a COVID-19pandemic, the value of these tools that provide virtual solutionshas increased exponentially."

|

Recognizing the need to address mental health on a larger scale,the Business Group on Health has put together "Addressing Mental Health from a Global and LocalPerspective," to help guide HR leaders in creating a plan fortheir global workers.

|

"It is often difficult for the corporate office to understandthe nuances that take place at the local level," said KathleenO'Driscoll, Business Group vice president. "Thesenuances are particularly important for mental health, wheremisunderstandings and fears are abundant. That's one of the reasonswe developed this guide – to provide global organizations with acountry framework to address issues like mental health access,quality, cost and stigma that allows for a 'glocal' approach, onein which there is a global strategy that is highly locallyrelevant."

|

The guide offers employers examples of tools currently beingused by multinational employers, as well as country-specific dataon things such as public funding for mental health, information oninsurance coverage and treatment options, and an evaluation ofhealth systems' capacity to meet the needs for mental health.

|

Another resource for employers building their mental healthstrategy: The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use, anemployer group collaborated founded last year to improve mentalhealth, has released new guidance.

|

"COVID-19 has put unprecedented pressure on a system thatalready struggled with access and effectiveness of care before thepandemic," said Michael Thompson, president and CEO of the NationalAlliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, a member of The PathForward collaborative. "The need for mental health services causedby the economic disturbance, fear of the virus and social isolationis growing. All stakeholders must double down to ensure we areprepared for the onslaught of need."

|

In addition to also recommending investment in virtualbehavioral health resources, The Path Forward's recommendationsinclude expanding screening for mental health and substance usedisorders; integrating behavioral health into primary care; andreimbursing behavioral health care providers equivalentlyregardless of treatment approach.

|

These are just a few of the resources available to employers asthey begin to overhaul their mental health strategies for apost-COVID world. Given how foreign and unpredictable this newlandscape will be, employers will want to keep mental health andwell-being strategies top of mind and re-evaluate them on a regularbasis to ensure they're meeting the needs of employees.

|

Read more: 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.