Experts call for greater integration of mental health strategies and interventions in the workplace

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The authors propose a framework that could potentially include medication therapy, psychotherapy, care management, job coaching, and more.

The healthcare industry is not doing enough to focus on mental illness, according to a new opinion piece HealthAffairs.org.

“Despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions and significant advances in integrating psychiatric care into health insurance, people with mental illnesses – including those with moderate illnesses such as depression or anxiety – remain weakly connected to work, and therefore, for the full participation in society, ”wrote Amanda Goorin, Richard G. Frank and Sherry Glied together. “Mental health problems pose difficulties for workers as their symptoms can affect essential skills in the workplace, such as: B. effective participation in teams, interaction with customers and employees and maintaining concentration. “

Related: Expanding Access to Mental Health Care: How Employers Can (and Should) Take the Lead

Goorin is a 2020 graduate of the Wagner School of Public Service and now works at Deloitte Consulting, Frank is Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics at Harvard Medical School and served in the Obama administration, and member (who is also on the Obama administration ) is currently Dean and Professor of Public Service at New York University and Director of NRx Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a behavioral health drug.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that almost one in five US adults lives with a mental illness – 51.5 million in 2019.

In their contribution, Goorin, Frank, and Glied argued that the Americans With Disabilities Act’s required workplace housing for employees with mental illness and comprehensive benefits, including health insurance and paid vacation, could provide a “framework” [to] go beyond “normal care” and improve both mental health and workplace productivity for this population group. “

This framework could potentially include medication therapy, psychotherapy, care management, job coaching, switching from full-time to part-time work, gradual introduction of tasks, and more.

The authors cited the Work and Health Initiative, which integrates occupational and mental health improvement techniques through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) advisor for depressed workers. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) nearly 5% of the US population People over the age of 18 experience depression on a regular basis.

“Through telephone sessions, the EAP consultant offers the coordination of medical care and work coaching in order to remove personal or environmental barriers to effective work at the workplace and to develop a tailor-made plan for changing specific work behavior, work processes or environmental conditions”, Gooring, Frank and Glied wrote. “The intervention also offers work-oriented CBT [cognitive behavior therapy] to help participants identify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that undermine their work flow and respond with more effective coping strategies. “

They added that studies suggest that GHI reduces the severity of symptoms of depression and improves time management and mental-interpersonal work tasks: “In the treatment group of one study, workplace productivity improved 44% (compared to 13% in the regular care group), days of absence decreased by 53% (compared to 13% in the regular care group) and the loss of productivity due to absences improved by 49% (compared to 11% in the regular care group). “

Effective interventions will cost money, and the authors cited the Mental Health Equality and Addiction Dependency Act, according to which employer-funded health insurance should provide access to adequate mental health services. “Many large employers already have EAPs that could provide a basis for additional job support,” they noted. “But because of the episodic nature of mental illness, it is likely that keeping employment also requires flexibility to take time off work if symptoms worsen.”

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