Ottawa-based Ross Video Ltd. is supporting employee mental health through a virtual health-care platform.

The platform, provided by Telus Health, allows employees and their dependants to connect with mental-health professionals in real time and fills a gap in local health-care services, says Hannah Barkley, the organization’s director of human resources operations. Virtual health care also offers employees flexibility in selecting appointments that work for their schedule, she adds, as well as the ability to choose a mental-health professional from a similar ethnic background.

“It’s hard to get access to mental-health professionals, at least locally. This way, employees can get the support when they need it and not a month later, when they can actually get an appointment with a professional.”

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Mental-health claims spiked as the coronavirus pandemic entered an endemic phase, with employees evaluating the challenges of the last three years and grappling with ongoing issues such as burnout and isolation, says Barkley.

“We’ve been looking at our short-term claims and overall data that we had on [employee assistance program] usage and there’s certainly enough factual and anecdotal evidence to support the need [for increased virtual health care].”

By addressing mental-health issues before they lead to chronic conditions, virtual counselling can also support the health of both employees and their benefits plan, she adds.

“Early intervention is a very key part for us [in deciding to offer virtual mental-health care]. We’re hoping that people will take advantage of it in the moment when they really feel they’ve got the time and space to address the issue and not wait a couple of weeks when life might be busy again.”

Read: Employers taking holistic approach to mental health as coronavirus pandemic wanes: expert