Mental Health Days

As more workers struggle with stress in and out of the workplace, some are requesting time off in order to cope. This is not a problem for companies with sick-day policies that allow employees to use their paid personal days for any reason. In other workplaces, people who are honest about asking for a mental health day can sometimes be looked upon as suffering from a mental health issue. Regardless of how your organization may handle these issues, it is important to respect employees’ right to privacy and avoid probing for sensitive information about a person’s well-being.

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Getting Creative About Behavioral Health

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With behavioral health conditions impacting one in five Americans, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more employers search for ways to provide members with better access to behavioral healthcare benefits.

Statistics show that many employees, including some that are insured, fail to get the mental healthcare they need. Because self-funded health plans provide plan design flexibility, some plans are taking bold steps to address this growing need. While many are using telemedicine to improve access and lower costs, some employers are treating out-of-network behavioral health treatment as in-network, enabling employees to pay the same amount for treatment regardless of which provider they use. Others are covering out-of-network behavioral healthcare services even when their plan doesn’t cover out-of-network services for other types of care.

When you consider that mental illness has become the greatest cause of disability claims in the U.S., it is not surprising that employers are looking for ways to help employees obtain the care they need.

Significant Action is Warranted

There is plenty of research to show that Americans are not getting the mental healthcare they need. According to Mental Health America, despite having health insurance, 56.5% of adults with mental illness received no treatment in the past year.

Another problem is that behavioral health treatments are rarely classified as primary care, and are regarded instead as specialty treatment. This makes people find an in-network provider, go out-of-network, pay higher out-of-pocket costs or avoid treatment altogether. Claims data from Collective Health shows that more than 40% of the 2017 behavioral health spend was out-of-network, which is many times the amount spent on primary or preventative care.

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Fighting Depression in the Workplace

dgb-depression-blogWhile awareness of mental health concerns in the workplace is increasing, studies repeatedly show that not enough employees feel comfortable utilizing mental health benefits. Furthermore, many employees are often unaware mental health benefits are even available. With more than 40 million Americans living with depression, it’s more important than ever to make sure the workplace is taking positive steps to address it. Here are positive steps your company can take:

Take a holistic approach. Addressing the many areas of wellness, including physical, financial and mental, equally can help employees feel safe enough to seek treatment through employer provided healthcare plans. Stigma is still a major barrier to access, but employers can encourage accessing treatment by putting the necessary emphasis on mental health and wellness. Providing an open space for conversation, information and support can increase overall employee mental wellness. And of course, extending benefits to all family members can prove extremely valuable.

Keep employees informed. Though your company may have excellent programs and benefits to address mental illness and depression, it’s possible that your employees are unaware of how to access them. When bringing the discussion of mental wellness into the public space it’s important that the tools and avenues to accessing help are made very clear.

Promote flexibility. Certain industries deal with more critical situations, such as safety concerns, fatigue or a high risk of injury. While there is no “off the shelf” solution to mental wellness, employers can play a major role in bringing mental health out in the open. And today more than ever, a company is only as healthy as its employees.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Why Your Company Should Care

This article was published on May 4, 2018 on Corporate Fitness & Health’s blog. Photo Credit Corporate Fitness & Health.

Given that most of us spend a good amount of our time at work, it should come as no surprise that our work environment plays a significant role in our mental health and overall well-being. Despite the role that office culture plays in employee health, companies rarely, if ever, mention mental health.

As mental health issues become more prevalent in the workplace, employers should consider taking ownership, and learn how to best combat the stressors that are particular to their workforce.

2016 Work and Well-Being survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that less than half of the 1,501 workers surveyed felt their organization supported employee well-being, and one in three reported being chronically stressed on the job.

Mental Health Problems Cost Employers

Less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work. Half of the workforce is “checked-out.”  18% are unhappy with their current position with some even sabotaging the success of their workplace. An unhappy or unhealthy work environment is bad for a business’ bottom line and bad for employees.

Employees with untreated mental illnesses cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance abuse, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services.

Workplace Stress

Stress is on the rise. More than half (54%) of employees are reporting high stress levels, up five points from last year. Further, 37% say their stress levels are higher than the previous year, according to the 2017 National Business Group on Health/Aon Hewitt Consumer Health Mindset Survey.

The good news? There are a number of ways employers can help combat stress, such as creating an emotional fitness strategy to reduce stigma and address stressful, top-of-mind issues.

If we recognized that all of us deal with our mental health every day – from personal health or family stressors, to work demands, to upsetting world events – we would understand the value in protecting it and promoting our personal resilience to deal with whatever life presents to us.

Who is your population? Evaluate your work environment to address issues that negatively impact employees’ emotional health and train leaders and managers to spot the subtle warning signs of a suffering employee.

Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments, and have higher rates of absenteeism. Stress from work can also impact their family life, mental health and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.

Mental Health Awareness Month Is an Opportunity

People aren’t considered either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum, and an organization’s culture can greatly impact where an employee falls on that continuum.

Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to open up the conversation about mental health issues in the workplace. Implementing stress awareness, or a corporate wellness program are just a few ways companies can promote positive mental well-being in their workplace.

The Diversified Group family of companies includes Corporate Fitness & Health. With over 30 years of experience, CF&H can help your organization implement a wellness program that will keep your employees happy, healthy and engaged.