Excessive wait times and a spike in demand for mental healthcare during Covid has given birth to an innovative experience: mental telehealth. And in an effort to support employees, forward-thinking employers have begun to offer this service as part of their employee benefit packages.
So what does this service look like? Mental telehealth typically includes the patient services in highest demand — virtual talk therapy, psychiatric medication, and mental health education.
Concerning statistics, such as 40 percent of Americans struggling with mental health during the pandemic, have led many companies to announce new ways they are supporting mental health in the workplace – improving employee care, corporate productivity and perhaps, even becoming chic, given the latest workforce reports:
- Mental and neurological disorders are a leading cause of disability in the United States.
- In a 2019 survey of 1,500 respondents, 61% said their productivity at work was affected by their mental health and over 50% said cost and poor insurance coverage are key barriers to accessing mental healthcare.
- And mental health is experienced differently by age in the workforce since the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a recent survey of 1,400 workers, a generational difference exists among those most likely to face mental health issues: Gen Z: 71%, Millennials: 59%, Gen X: 36% and Baby Boomers: 22%.
Now, with more people beginning to head back to the workplace after working remotely — or not working at all — during the pandemic, profound changes must be made in how they approach employees’ psychological and emotional well-being, advocates say.
While many California companies are prioritizing mental health, what is stopping some from offering expanded mental health support, despite the rise of mental health needs, and the proliferation of mental telehealth alternatives available?
Reasons commonly cited by employers include:
- Perceived stigma toward individuals with mental health conditions. Employees harbor concerns that if they used company mental health benefits, their careers may suffer, which would leave these benefits unused.
- Privacy limitations make it difficult for companies to measure the positive impact these benefits have had on their employee population.
- Navigating a new territory of employee benefits and not knowing where to begin.
- Companies already having insurance-based plans in place that include psychologists and psychiatrists for employees to access; they believe they can’t afford the incremental cost to add additional company-funded services.
What some employers fail to factor into their decision is the ease and convenience of these newer mental telehealth services. Individuals can often get video appointments within 24 hours from the comfort of their home — days, nights and weekends — while many insurance-based offerings can take weeks to months for an appointment, and have availability only during work hours.
Remedy, a telepsychiatry company based in Los Angeles, was founded by Dr. Kirsten Thompson because she wanted to make psychiatric mental care more accessible to all needing help. Remedy provides psychiatric medication telehealth care for adults in California (expanding to other states in future) for all symptoms including depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, bipolar, insomnia and more from the comfort of one’s home – days, nights or weekends; and is encouraging California business owners to expand support for their employees to include mental health. Remedy recently launched an effort targeted to companies to offer their employees affordable access to medication treatment services to meet their employee mental health support needs.
“With mental health being the most important driver of productivity and happiness, companies are now realizing that offering improved mental health benefits is a clear win-win for both employees and the business. The disconnect is that our current insurance-based system is over-taxed, so companies relying on their existing medical insurance offerings are unknowingly behind the times and under supporting their staff. Luckily, many new telehealth companies have arisen to fill the gaps- but employers need to be aware of this deficit, and then take action.”
– Dr. Kirsten Thompson, Founder & Supervising Psychiatrist, Remedy
If employee mental health becomes normalized as part of the business culture just as quarterly performance reviews and professional development, organizations will be rewarded with higher performance, fewer disability claims, and reduced employee turnover.