Today I have the fortunate opportunity to present at RIMS 2016 with Scott Daniels, Director of Disability, Comcast on the topic of Achieving balance: Managing mental health and stress-related issues in the workplace. Mental illness is a leading cause of employee absence in America. Historically workers' compensation stakeholders considered primarily the physical attributes of an illness; with culture of health advancements in communities and workplaces, we are seeing a broad shift of interest to whole person health, with physical and mental health receiving equal consideration of importance.
A 2015 Integrated Benefits Institute membership survey noted that four of the six most important issues in health and productivity, as ranked by employers, relate to mental health:
- Workplace culture of health
- Employee health engagement
- Wellness and health promotion programs
These issues are meaningful to the health of a workforce, regardless of how an accident or disease originates. Along with musculoskeletal disorders, mental and behavioral health is nearly always a leading cause of short-term disability.
Life events happen and when events have a negative impact on our lives, or even those we love and care about, we may require treatment for depression, stress or anxiety. Consideration for short-term intervention, or more for those with chronic mental illness, requires a proactive approach to engage employees with the treatment plan, improve the health experience during care, and manage work considerations.
How are employer health and productivity programs evolving to consider mental health? Risk managers, benefits leaders and disability directors are working together for improvements in total employee health, inclusive of mental and behavioral health. They are engaging knowledgeable consultants, claims administration firms, advocacy specialists and their own operations to increase awareness of access to care, excellence in healthcare and benefit programs which, in turn, drive engagement in health by the employee. An increased level of stakeholder involvement improves the organization’s understanding of claim trends and outcomes.
Employers advancing total health considerations, inclusive of physical and mental health and wellbeing, are acutely aware of mental health stigma in the workplace and within society, the importance of resilience and balance within employee health and productivity models, and the retention impact their programs have. A total health approach can make a major difference in workforce health, productivity and the top and bottom lines for business.
Special thanks to RIMS for selecting our session on mental health and stress-related issues in the workplace for this year’s annual conference. We are passionate about total employee health and are grateful for or the opportunity to share insights into Comcast's program and evolving mental health solutions. For additional information and my take on why caring counts for mental health, take a look at these additional resources and continue to connect with both Sedgwick and I through social media and this blog.
- White paper: The Productivity Summit: Improving behavioral health and well-being in the workplace
- Blog: Carter Symposium: Opportunities for transforming mental health care
- Blog: Creating an advocacy-based claim model
- LinkedIn group: Transforming Healthcare for Tomorrow
- Twitter: @kimberlyanngeo
- Twitter: @Sedgwick
Kimberly George, SVP, Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare