Half (51 per cent) of plan sponsors said they have a mental-health training program in place for managers and/or employees, up from 37 per cent in 2018, according to the 2019 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.
The prevalence of mental-health training is even higher among plan sponsors with 500 or more staff (73 per cent), as well as unionized employers (69 per cent), those from the public sector (67 per cent), those based in Quebec (66 per cent) and those that receive analyses of their top disease states (63 per cent).
However, a third (32 per cent) of plan sponsors said their health benefits plan doesn’t provide enough coverage for psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy. This number rises to 50 per cent among those that also said their workplace doesn’t encourage health and wellness. And 28 per cent of plan sponsor respondents said they don’t know if their plan provides enough coverage for these mental-health therapies.“The focus on mental health is understandable, but it’s almost to the point where we may be doing a disservice to plan members,” said Chris Bonnett, principal consultant at H3 Consulting and a survey advisory board member. “We don’t want to forget the fact of comorbidities. Research shows that almost one in three people with cancer also have a diagnosed mental illness, most often depression and anxiety. It’s not surprising. Our health strategy should include all the conditions that affect productivity, well-being and quality of life.”
The Sanofi survey highlighted B.C. Hydro as a leading employer in the area of mental health. When the organization offered employees a 30-day, online challenge in mindfulness, the initiative struck a chord. Participation in the challenge exceeded the company’s goal by 170 per cent, with 1,800 employees taking part.
The organization noted it’s continuing to explore new ways to further the conversation on mental health, with an aim at reducing barriers to support and identifying opportunities for early intervention.