Mental health itself is nothing new. However, the ways in which we understand and approach issues related to mental health in society, and in the workplace, are constantly evolving. This is especially visible in the insurance industry, where mental health challenges account for a high percentage of long-term disability (LTD) claims, and are therefore a costly expense for many businesses – does this sound familiar to your business (1)?

Much can be said for the progress made up to this point by the individuals and organizations working together to address challenges to mental health such as social stigma, education, access to support and treatment (2). However, plenty of work remains ahead, perhaps starting with how we think about mental health in the first place – not as something separate from other aspects of our well-being, but as something completely intertwined with and dependent upon them. As a business-owner, you need to think big picture – medical, physical, financial, social, and occupational health all factor into the mental health of your employees. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association:

“Mental health and physical health are fundamentally linked. People living with a serious mental illness are at higher risk of experiencing a wide range of chronic physical conditions. Conversely, people living with chronic physical health conditions experience depression and anxiety at twice the rate of the general population. Co-existing mental and physical conditions can diminish quality of life and lead to longer illness duration and worse health outcomes. This situation also generates economic costs to society due to lost work productivity and increased health service use. (3)”

If you had the option to treat a problem or prevent a problem, which would you choose? Today, business wellness strategies need to provide access to tools and resources not only in times of need, but proactively, and ideally before treatment is required or a claim occurs. The understanding is that with increased access to resources supporting proactive wellness, less retroactive forms of treatment (hospitalization, institutionalization and medication) may be required in the long term (4). By curating and delivering the right complement of coverage and resources, you can make proactive wellness more accessible and routine for your employees, empowering them to live better lives and prevent future illness. In turn, this will protect your bottom line.

It should also be noted that the most effective and efficient wellness programs are greater than the sum of their parts – meaning, they provide an ecosystem of resources that your employees can use together to form a well-rounded program that supports their health right away. Such a program may include, in addition to traditional benefits coverage, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), wellness accounts for fitness and recreation, virtual care and mental health support to name just a few. You have options.

And while many great resources exist to support employee wellness, the true value of a total wellness program comes from combining resources that are valuable and easily accessible into a seamless employee experience, one that integrates well with how they access their other daily information. Increased employee awareness, accessibility and confidentiality within any type of wellness program, means fewer sick days, engaged employees and higher ROIs for your business. Perhaps now is the right time to evaluate your current group benefits program and if necessary, upgrade to a plan that provides a more impactful experience for your employees, as well as your bottom line! Speak with your advisor today.

 

References
1)   Heymann, Chris. Benefits Canada. Benefits Trends: Hard Dollars of Depression. February 1, 2008.
2)   Benefits Canada. Stigma preventing employees from seeking mental-health help: report. March 24, 2021.
3)   Canadian Mental Health Association. The Relationship between Mental Health, Mental Illness and Chronic Physical Conditions. December, 2008.
4)   Cangiano, Francesco and Parker, Sharon K. ResearchGate. Proactivity for Mental Health and Well-Being. October, 2015.