July 2020 – Is This the Tail?

“Is this the tail?”

A Canadian based Employee Assistance Plan provider, Morneau Shepell, published a study suggesting that 72% of employees surveyed, reported that Mental Health problems had negatively impacted their career (note 1).

Whether this career impact was real or just perceived, is it any wonder that employees do not wish to disclose Mental Health conditions to their employers?

Now with the Pandemic, we are seeing levels of short-term Mental Health claims increase dramatically (North American data).

This is from Healthcare workers with anxiety, depression, and even PTSD are suggested (note 2 NY Times), and the fallout from the economic wreckage that has been wrought on the hospitality and entertainment, leisure, retail industries and beyond.

Yet, overall claim volumes seem to be holding steady, for the moment at least.

The rise in MH claims are countered by delays in elective surgeries, the downturn in the economy may make people less inclined to file a claim, and working from home may help this too… However, this is delayed volume, those claims have not gone away.

So, are we building up to a Tsunami of claims with MH claims leading the way?

Fred Schott at the Council For Disability Awareness has written a number of papers on this topic linked here, which are very insightful (note 3).

I’m afraid that, as a very famous British war-time leader once said, “this is the end of the beginning…” and to make suggestions as to what will happen when life gets back to ‘normal’, as if a switch will turn, may be fantasy.

What if this is the new normal and, as we are seeing in the US, things may get worse before there is a slow crawling improvement helped by a vaccine sometime next year? We need to do something to help us cope with the potential tail of this pandemic…

Maybe this is the right moment to get organized, ask ourselves how we can better manage these short term MH claims and get ready for some of them becoming long term claims. What can we do to get ready for the tsunami? We need to get smarter tools, improve our processes, implement those changes that we never quite got around to.

Early intervention is critical in managing MH claims, and early intervention needs early detection, particularly of those individuals who are in denial. Smarter ways of working are available to us so we can help individuals recover from MH issues. 

We are doing a trial in Canada where we are helping to identify ‘at risk’ MH claimants at a very early stage in the process, and then applying online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions, as a cost-effective intervention.

I will report back our findings in due course…

We need to get better, MH was a rising-tide of a problem that’s about to grow to a full storm from “pandemic fallout”. Hiding behind a 24 month limitation on MH claims in the US, will no longer work. In Canada and Australia, it’s already a huge problem.

So let’s act now, who else is interested in some innovative process changes to help address the MH issue early? Let me know!

Ian Bridgman

1.    Morneau Shepell Study – https://www.morneaushepell.com/permafiles/91248/mental-health-white-paper-2018.pdf
2.    NY Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/16/health/coronavirus-ptsd-medical-workers.html
3.    Fred Schott CDA – https://www.linkedin.com/posts/fred-schott-0135696_depression-and-covid-19-on-4232020-the-activity-6681680315926245376-4rN1

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