Mental Health Benefits During A Pandemic

Robert Crowder, founder and President of The Benefits Trust, has over 30 years of experience serving pension and employee benefits clients. In 1994, he founded The Benefits Trust as a Third Party Administrator serving small and mid-sized business across Canada. Through Rob Crowder's dedication and leadership, The Benefits Trust has grown into the successful benefits provider that it is today.

Mental Health Benefits During A Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it rocked the whole world to the core. It changed everything – from the way we do business to the way we spend our leisure time, how our kids go to school or learn virtually, how we shop and spend time with our friends and families. Such a rapid rate of change in such a relatively short amount of time can have a serious and significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, one in five Canadians have been found to have symptoms of depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder since the pandemic began.

The good news is, there is help out there. There are conversations and communications that advisors can have with their current and prospective clients to remind them of the support systems that are available to their employees and their families.


A Valuable Promise

When advisors provide their clients with a benefits solution, they’re delivering a promise to them. A promise that care and help is available when its needed. This is the ideal time to remind your clients about the options and services that are available to their employees in their benefits promise.

For companies and employers who have chosen to partner with traditional insurance carriers, unfortunately these options aren’t always available to them. Many traditional benefits providers offer benefits packages that cannot be altered and are not flexible, and the mental health practitioners that qualify as eligible services can be limited.

At The Benefits Trust, we have offered the option to create your own customized package, and this includes services for mental health support. Your mental health service offerings can include multiple practitioners. For example, Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers, Psychotherapists, and more, are all covered under our recognized mental health supports with The Benefits Trust. Your clients have multiple options to choose from, depending on what service best suits their needs, has the soonest availability, and fits best into their mental health plan.

While face-to-face therapy and traditional mental health services are available, they have been strained and pushed to their limits over the course of the pandemic thus far. But these are not the only options that are covered by The Benefits Trust.


Emerging and Evolving Additional Support Programs

Demand for alternative and emerging mental health support programs has accelerated rapidly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have to keep in mind that mental health support is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person might not work for the next, which is, in part, a big reason for the growth of these additional programs.

Wellness Programs

Digital and virtual wellness programs have been growing in popularity, for so many reasons. Many of them are customizable, accessible at different times of the day and virtually on our personal devices, and can also act as a teambuilding tool. They combine employee engagement and healthy behaviours, with employees and their employers encouraging and supporting each other.

One important caveat to keep in mind with these wellness programs is: there must be employee buy-in. If employees are not engaged, they do not work.


Telehealth Programs

Telemedicine has been a service that’s been around since the 1960’s when NASA began using it. It’s growth has been steady but slow – that is, until now. With the need for social distancing and greater strains being put on our healthcare system than ever before, the demand for telehealth technologies skyrocketed. The demand for virtual doctors’ visits has actually increased a jaw-dropping 5,600% since the start of the pandemic.

Telehealth provides quick and easy access to doctors and other health professionals, and allows online access to mental health therapy and psychology services while limiting the risk of exposure to other people and providing discretion. Telehealth programs range from free to pay per month plans.


EAP (Employee Assistance Programs)

Many advisors are aware of Employee Assistance Programs, as they’ve been around for a while now. They are a proven, time-tested beneficial support for your clients. EAP’s are fantastic because they are flexible, with entry level to comprehensive range programs available, and they can easily be linked onto an existing plan. They’re also discreet, since they’re confidential.


Personalized Prescribing Programs

While it is a relatively new service, the notion of personal prescribing is growing in popularity among individuals and in its acceptance by physicians – albeit approval has been slow, it’s progressing, nonetheless. While Personalized Prescribing is a brand name, personal testing for the right kind of medications that will be compatible with an individual’s genetic makeup is gaining steam. An individual can self-administer a simple test and send it into their doctor for analysis to determine the best possible medication to treat mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and more.

This type of support has been useful during the pandemic, especially with the desire for decreased in-person doctor visits and testing, and the desire to decrease the number of medications that an individual needs to try before finding something that will help. Ensuring your employees get the correct medication and dosage as quickly as possible also limits absenteeism and leads to increased job performance.

New mental health support services are being developed often, and its important to keep your eyes open for these and more programs that can qualify for benefits coverage for your clients. Don’t worry – we’re keeping our eyes and ears open too!

Reassurance That Help is Here

The best way to help your clients, especially through these turbulent times, is to listen to them and build a solution that is useful to the employer, and their employees and their families.

One of the best questions that has been posed to me, and which I ask frequently, is: “If we were meeting three years from now, what would have to have happened for it to be the best three years of your life?” After that, you, as a super advisor, must listen. Asking future based questions like this will reveal a lot to you about your clients’ goals – in life and in business. This will uncover important insights that will help you build a health benefits solution that adds value to your client’s business, to their life, and to the lives of their employees and their families.

Contact The Benefits Trust today to learn more about how you can approach these value rich conversations with you’re your clients, and about how you can incorporate more mental health supports into their benefits plans.

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