Psychological support: A must-have for every workplace
Today, if an organization wants to ensure its lasting success, it must simultaneously be:
- Attractive, so it can recruit new talent
- Caring, so it can retain them
- Consistent, so it can engage them
- Proactive, so it can continue to stand out from the competition
These challenges have been further complicated by the pandemic, mentally overloading employees and creating significant emotional turmoil for some of them. Mental health resources are overburdened, which is causing significant delays before people receive care. To make sure employees can get the help they need, employers should take a step back to make sure that there aren’t any blind spots in the psychological support services being offered. If they want to provide the best possible employee experience and truly stand out, they should also broaden their vision while ensuring consistency across all of the programs they offer.
The experts at Normandin Beaudry ensure that the advice they give is sound by closely watching market trends, constantly monitoring the options available and offering an integrative vision of the various programs in place to ensure that the services offered at our client companies are competitive and complement each other.
Many employees are having trouble accessing professional help and are encountering unusually long wait times before they start receiving care. According to Statistics Canada, more than 50% of employees in 2021 said they live with a disability due to a mental health problem. This is up 6.2% compared to the previous two years.
Since labour is in short supply across Canada, organizations have everything to gain by implementing support measures that could reduce absenteeism, while also showing employees that organizations care about their mental health.
According to the 2021 data from our remun survey, 94% of organizations have set up an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), while 46% offer a virtual care service. You might assume these numbers have no place to go but up, i.e., that the organizations must take a more holistic approach to their support services if they want to stand out from the competition and optimize the employee experience at a reasonable cost.
The mental health spectrum shows that an individual can hover between perfect mental well-being and psychological distress, moving from “green” to “yellow” to “red” depending on what’s going on in their lives and the obstacles they face. To a certain extent, this concept separates psychological well-being from the fact of having a diagnosis.
Since an organization’s employees could be anywhere on the spectrum, all possibilities must be considered when assessing and expanding the range of psychological support services offered. For example, we recommend offering employees prevention and awareness-raising tools to promote greater well-being while also offering support through short-, medium- and long-term care for those who are going through a period of vulnerability or psychological distress at a specific point in their lives.
When assessing the scope of existing mental health programs and resources, employers must first analyze group insurance plan coverage (type of professionals, reimbursement percentage, maximum reimbursable amount, etc.) and ask if the services offered meet the various needs of employees, regardless of where they may be on the spectrum. The idea here is to analyze any gaps to try to ensure that the psychological support services offered to employees and their families complement each other.
Two essential criteria must be integrated into this thinking process: diversity and accessibility.
Emerging virtual consultation methods, whether self-guided (online cognitive behavioural therapy) or self-service (wellness library, health questionnaire, etc.) make it possible to do things like diversify the services offered and allow action to be taken more quickly and with shorter wait times. They also reach people who would not necessarily be willing to start a more “traditional” consultation process, but nevertheless need to explore solutions and tools.
Diversity also means providing access to various types of professionals, such as psychotherapists, psychoeducators, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, and sex therapists who can respond to a much broader range of needs and concerns.
Consequently, it may be advisable to review the types of professionals covered by the group insurance plan. But, if professionals are added, we highly recommend ensuring that they are overseen by a professional order to protect employees.
Although it’s not always THE best solution for an organization, an integrated “one-stop-shop” type of offer makes it easier to access health care services and break down silos of care. Employees no longer need to wonder where to go to ask for help. They’ll receive guidance throughout the process and be presented with the best resources based on their needs.
To make it easier for employees to access mental health care, we must also make sure that the coverage offered helps them recover.
Whether it’s through the group insurance plan or services offered by a separate health care provider, employees should be able to receive support until their problem is resolved. A number of employers have even redesigned their plans, increasing maximum reimbursable amounts and the reimbursement percentage for psychological support services.
There’s also a trend among providers to focus on a clinically appropriate approach rather than a set number of hours per individual per year. This option, which doesn’t necessarily cost more, gives professionals the flexibility they require to resolve an issue in the short term.
Employers should also keep in mind how important it is to cover the immediate family if they want to enhance an employee’s peace of mind and performance.
In closing, although financial resources may be limited, it is up to employers to make informed choices that support all employees across the mental health spectrum. They need to establish sustainable solutions while considering diversity and the importance of facilitating access to care.