In the coming five years, Canadians can expect to see the next stage of awareness around mental health, according  one health expert.

“Where we need to build on awareness is what the illness actually looks like. There’s still quite a lack of knowledge out there and I believe that’s improving greatly every day,” said Chris Anderson, president of Medaca Health Group, speaking at a Medavie Blue Cross event on Wednesday.

“What that’s going to mean is employers are no longer going to wait until someone is on disability to act and find proper treatment. They’re going to find ways to identify people at risk and still working and try to get them help before they leave and prevent their absence.”

Read: Improving employee mental health among top HR priorities for 2019

During the event in Toronto, Anderson spoke on a panel looking at the key mental-health trends expected in the coming years. 

Identifying people at risk will be a key method to reducing disability, he noted. “Right now we know presenteeism and productivity issues are actually costs that are a lot higher than disability costs — some studies say six-times. That’s the trend we’re going to get to soon: identifying people who are at work today and helping them.”

As awareness programs become more successful, people are being more proactive in seeking help, noted Anderson. “So our success is going to drive our costs up, it’s going to drive the volume of claims up. We see that already,” he said. “And although some of the great solutions that are out there are driving costs down on a per-claim basis, total volumes are going to go up and a lot of organizations have not come to realize that.” 

Read: Half of Canadians view depression as a disability: poll

Anderson also expects millennials, who are more aware of mental illness and feel less stigma around seeking help, will demand more mental-health services. “Those millennials are going to understand the illness and they’re going to put their hands up in the workplace when they need help and they’re going to demand treatment,” he said. “That’s definitely going to drive demand as well.”

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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