Virtual mental healthcare services can improve employee health and productivity while reducing costs and absenteeisms.
We share much with our neighbors from the north, including mental health issues in the workplace. According to statistics, 500,000 Canadians are unable to go to work each week due to poor mental health. This is estimated to cost $50 billion annually and accounts for up to 40% of short-term disability claims. Now many employers in Canada are finding great success with a virtual care service to address employees’ mental health issues 24/7. There is much to learn from their experience.
This service is available any time from any location. Medical consults begin via synchronous text, the lowest barrier to entry for those who may be hesitant to seek help. Video consults are available as needed or desired. However, these are only used when the employee is ready; and these consults are conducted privately.
Staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs) trained/licensed in assessing and managing primary mental health support, the service goes beyond counseling. The NPs also manage non-complex medication prescribing/management. Additionally, they are trained to determine when a person may need additional help and should be referred to a primary care physician or specialist. Specialists (such as psychologists, psychotherapists, or social workers) are available for video appointments via app. At the same time, the service also has a psychiatrist onboard to support the clinical team. NPs can consult with this practitioner on more complex cases.
Mental health care isn’t a one-time or one-size-fits-all issue, and this service recognizes this. The NPs follow up with patients to ensure they’re getting the help they need. The average person has 4.5 consults. However, there is no limit on the number of consults or the time patients spend interacting with NPs. This enables people to get the help they need without feeling rushed or worried about time limits or other restrictions.
The are several virtual mental health services available in the U.S. These include integrated proprietary platforms designed to identify and engage patients with the specific support they need in the form/venue they want. Read more about some of these services here.
The American Psychological Association has guidelines on these types of virtual mental health services. They note, “The expanding role of technology in the provision of psychological services and the continuous development of new technologies that may be useful in the practice of psychology present unique opportunities, considerations and challenges to practice.”