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Telehealth for Mental Health: Employer-Sponsored Support

Posted by Ben Waxman and Stephanie DeFazio on Jun 25, 2020 5:30:00 PM

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Providing employee mental health services and support via Telehealth has its challenges. Today, we take a closer look at Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and how they are adapting to meet employee needs during the pandemic when stressors are high and access to healthcare services might be limited. 

The goal: helping employers communicate comprehensive EAPs that support employee needs in comfortable and accessible ways. Done well, this work supports employee attraction and retention.

Community Care Employee Assistance Program reported in 2018 some very promising national statistics on the benefits of EAPs for employees, pointing to increased effectiveness and productivity, boosted morale, and stronger work life balance. In addition to these benefits, EAPs have decreased sick leave by 33%, work-related accidents by 65%, and grievances by 50%. Fortunately, given the current pandemic, EAPs offer just the types of support services where Telehealth connections (video, phone, chat) work really well.

We recently had a conversation with Nicole D'Uva, Director of Employee Health at Adventist HealthCare in Maryland to understand how the EAP she manages has adapted to meet the needs of Adventist employees. Read on to find out about the adjustments and improvements the health system has made to its EAP since COVID-19 disrupted the work environment. 

Virtual support groups keep employees resilient

After COVID-19 happened, Nicole and her Employee Assistance team recognized the changing needs of different employee segments at Adventist. "Our focus has been to continue to promote the Employee Assistance Program, while offering support to our frontline staff," says Nicole.

They created open-ended virtual support groups that take place twice per day throughout the health system. Led by licensed clinical social workers, these online groups offer front line employees the opportunity to share their emotions and experiences, creating a greater sense of normalcy with their peers when so much around them was not normal. 

"We focus on helping employees manage their personal stress and resilience. We offer coping strategies and peer support, while extending an open invitation to use the EAP for a more tailored and individual clinical intervention," explains Nicole.

"In addition, we have increased the number of providers within our network who support telehealth. This has been extremely helpful in providing participating employees with timely support and counseling." When the need for online counseling services spiked, the EAP team was big enough to handle it. 

It all comes down to communication

A 2019 article from HR Technologist mentions that the use of technology to provide support has a positive effect on employees because they feel safe in their home environment behind a screen. Employees find this approach encouraging because it means easy access to resources. With convenient access, they are more likely to be proactive regarding their mental and physical health.

Nicole has observed that with online support, younger employees adopt the approach with a bit more ease. "This younger group has more comfort adapting to new technologies, and they appreciate the immediate virtual access to the support they need," Nicole confirms. "For others, it is a matter of creating comfort by providing helpful FAQs and guides to outline the technology process. It all comes down to communication, the more we can communicate expectations and where to seek support, the more successful we become."

Communicating the employee telehealth opportunity

The Tessellati team understands the mental health and other needs that company EAPs meet. To provide those services well requires a new level of employee communication. Deep expertise in healthcare communications help companies adapt to new technology platforms and foster employee adoption. And, importantly, our-long standing human resources communications work has always been about helping employees feel important and supported.

We know that clear instructions must be paired with the empathy and authenticity that will communicate a caring work environment for all employees.

Our team can partner with you to deliver your sensitive external messages effectively to your patients (consumer campaigns), community (brand leadership), and clinical staff (training materials). Adapting and adopting are consistent themes now as we all become capable users of telehealth services.

In our digital world, we are on a quest to continuously improve user experience for both the patient and the clinician. 

Recalling our goal: helping employers communicate comprehensive EAPs that support employee needs in comfortable and accessible ways.

To learn more about how our we can improve communications around your Telehealth services, click below.

Telehealth Services

Stay tuned for part four of this telehleath series as we delve into self-care resources for parents. 

Topics: Healthcare, Telehealth, Mental Health, digital divide, healthcare communications, access to healthcare, Employee Communications, EAP, Employee Assistance Program

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