Is mental health virtual care as a benefit effective?

61 percent of HR leaders rank issue as one of their top challenges

Is mental health virtual care as a benefit effective?
Dr. Marc Robin, medical director, Dialogue Technologies

More than ever, employers must recognize the strategic significance of well-being and mental health for a more engaged and more productive workforce in the long term, says Dialogue, a health and wellness virtual health care platform, in its report, ‘The Dialogue difference that demonstrates ROI.’ The report says 62 percent of missed workdays are taken by employees to address their mental health. Add to that the fact that one in five Canadians are without access to a primary care provider, and the need for mental health support is clear.

“The mental health of Canadian has not improved since 2021,” says Dr. Marc Robin, medical director at Dialogue Technologies. “Despite the fact that we have had to regain our social life, and we're out of confinement, we've also had to switch back and forth in the ways we work. Whether we're working at home or it’s a hybrid arrangement, that back and forth by itself causes stress. And in the last year, there are a lot more financial insecurities that are causing stress. But whatever it is, we're at the same place that we were two years ago.

“Canadians are looking to their employers for support; however, the majority also believe that their managers are not well prepared to help them or they don't have the services in place that actually help them.”

Employees don’t feel supported by employers

When it comes to support in the workplace, more than half (58 percent) of employees believe their managers are not prepared to support their mental health needs. At the same time, a majority of Canadians (81 percent) believe virtual care would enable them to take a more proactive approach to their mental health.

The report reveals there is a disconnect between how Canadian employees feel their employers support their mental health, with one in three employees admitting to feeling their employer’s mental health support is insufficient. The same amount are unaware of the resources they have access to.

Robin says even employees who have access to EAPs don’t utilize them. “Employers should be looking to provide access to mental health services. We know that mental health distress, whether it's depression or anxiety, is associated with a huge loss in productivity and increased absenteeism. Mental health is now also the number one expense in short-term and long-term disability claims. Employers should want to address these issues. But how?

“Virtual care is a good option. It decreases the barrier to access and provides many options to address mental health. The help is not limited to Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and they can access it from the comfort of their home. It captures the moments of opportunity where people that need help can immediately talk to somebody and then start to get to a better place. They have access to a network of multidisciplinary providers.

“Our research shows that, remarkably, on average patients get a 40 percent improvement on their mental health score within 30 days when they utilize a virtual care solution. Importantly, a 40 percent reduction in mental health score is a return to function and productivity.”

The Dialogue report shows that employers benefit from adopting virtual mental services which support their workforce, as it is shown to provide a strong ROI and increased productivity. For every 1,000 employees, annual savings are nearly $200,000 in absenteeism costs, and over $218,000 in presenteeism costs as a result of earlier access to Dialogue’s mental health services.

With 61 percent of HR leaders ranking mental health as one of their top challenges, prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their team is not just a nice thing to do, it’s also a smart business move. By offering the right support and resources, employers can foster a caring workplace and a team that is healthier, happier, and more productive.