Connecting Canadians through mental health

EHN Canada, through a partnership with Benefits Alliance, highlights a 3-component program to help employees struggling with mental health and disability

Connecting Canadians through mental health

With many Canadians requiring an increased need on mental health care in the workforce, two companies have recently teamed up to come up with a solution.

In partnership with Benefits Alliance and through a program called “Mental Health Connect”, EHN Canada will be training leaders in organizations to help their employees in the workplace who are struggling with mental health or with a disability.

Suanne Wong, senior director business development of strategy and operations at EHN Canada said the Mental Health Connect program came from having conversations with benefits brokers last year.

“[They said] our employers are looking for more. They know that their employees are struggling, we've got the APs, we've got the individual counselling and the benefits that cover those but it's just not enough. It's not enough for the people who are still struggling, despite all those supports … We were trying to deliver a solution that would tackle a couple of the larger challenges that leaders and companies might be facing today when trying to tackle mental health,” Wong said.

Wong explains the program works in three components. The first component is immersive education for HR managers and for “people leaders”, because as much as we talk about mental health, Wong says, it's still not very well understood.

“When you're suddenly thrown into a manager position, and you have to look after other people, it becomes a much more challenging thing that, often, people don't get trained on and unless you have firsthand experience, it's really difficult to have those conversations and to know where this might help.”

The immersive education consists of a three-hour session that EHN offers and is open to any of their plan partners who want to sign on when they’re available.

“It's a three-hour session that walks them through what is mental health versus mental illness? What is the spectrum of symptoms that employees might experience, how to have those difficult conversations and what resources are available,” Wong explains. Another part of the three-hour session, Wong says, is an experience related to group therapy. “It's really a wonderful thing to be able to participate in and get a little bit of insight into, especially if you're going to be referring a program like that to other people.”

The second component of the Connect program is a self-screener. It’s anonymous and confidential for employees to walk through, and they can also receive insight into the level of severity of symptoms that they might be experiencing. Wong says it can take up to 5 minutes and employees can do it as often as they wish.

“We know that speaking up is really difficult and thinking that your employer is going to know that you're struggling, or your supervisor knows that you're struggling, is always a barrier,” Wong said. “Having a tool where you can access recommendations and treatment that is already funded, we just felt that that would help lower some of the barriers to accessing care.”

Once employees get to the end of the screener, they’ll receive some recommendations as to what a possible treatment option for them might be, based on the level of symptoms they're experiencing. Another option is to have one of EHN’s admissions team call and walk them through some other options offered.

The very last component for the program, Wong highlights, is connecting employees to treatment. The Mental Health Connect solution is a subscription-based plan, which means employers are paying for their employees to have unlimited access to EHN’s intensive outpatient programs.

“Not only do you see where you're struggling, you actually have somewhere to go and some action to take to do about it,” Wong says. “We know that when you address mental health issues that you have individuals who feel more positive about their workplace. They feel supported, you have increased productivity, and you are tackling issues like absenteeism, presenteeism.”

Carolyne Eagan, president of Benefits Alliance, says plan sponsors can be rest assured, knowing EHN has been thoroughly vetted and what they’re offering is tried-and-true.

“They've got the expertise and they’ve got the way to connect and drive success,” she said.

“This program really is meant to be effective,” Wong added. “One, on intervening early, but also in reducing disability costs and that's the biggest driver, I think, for plan sponsors to invest in a program like this … Implementing a program like this, where you actually have treatment options, on the more moderate to severe scale of symptoms, you're actually preventing some of the costs that come along with doing nothing.”