Tackling COVID’s mental health crisis with virtual teletherapy services

The effects of the COVID 19 pandemic have been far-reaching. While fears of catching the virus are real, the daily stress of social distancing, financial uncertainty, and working at home are taking the biggest toll on people’s health. So how are employers, and even governments, dealing with this surging mental health crisis? They are deploying or offering more telemedicine and teletherapy services. 

Experts say COVID is causing a mental health crisis

Right now, mental health issues are on the rise. According to a recent report by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 38% of Canadians say their mental health has declined due to the pandemic and 46% feel anxious or worried. Those already struggling with mental health are two times more likely to report a decline in their wellbeing

By looking back at the 1990 and 2008 economic recessions, a Deloitte study predicts that there will be anywhere between a 54%-163% increase in the number of Canadians who will visit a doctor for mental health issues in the coming years. This ‘human crisis’, they say, is just beginning to unravel

In-person mental health counseling has been thwarted 

The challenge is that people don’t have access to necessary mental health resources right now. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. In fact, 67% saw disruptions to counseling and psychotherapy and 75% saw partial disruptions to workplace mental health services. 

To bridge the gaps, most countries are turning to telemedicine and teletherapy. The same rings true for employers who want to keep their workforce healthy.

67% of employees would use virtual tools for mental health support

In a previous article titled ‘Employees want virtual healthcare. Only 9% of employers offer it.’, we laid out some facts about the growing demand for virtual healthcare services. 

What’s interesting is that a new RBC insurance survey suggests at least 67% of employees would also willingly use the web, a video chat or the telephone to speak with a mental health practitioner. That’s up 19% from 2019. 60% of working Canadians would also use video or telephone counselling, showing an increase of 15% over last year. 

Other key findings from the survey show people are more likely to use free options to tackle mental health issues. This is especially true for those that are facing with financial strain or unemployment and include talking to friends or family (46 per cent), getting outside or going for a walk (46 per cent), and exercising, yoga or meditation (29 per cent). 

However, the RBC survey also indicated that those with insurance coverage, whether private, group, or a combination of both, were 10% more likely to rank their mental health as excellent or good and 12% more likely to describe their financial health as excellent or good. 

Enhancing your employee benefit plans with virtual therapy services

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could last longer than any of us can imagine. Now, and during the aftermath of this pandemic, employers should be prioritizing mental health offerings. 

Since more mental health practitioners are offering services online or over the phone and employees are open to this type of support, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your benefits plan with virtual therapy and counselling. 

In the long run, employers who offer more virtual mental health services can boost employee wellbeing. This will result in less absenteeism and more productivity across your business.

Want to learn more about why offering employees mental health benefits is worth it? Read our article titled ‘How Your Benefits Plan Can Help Employees with Mental Health’. If you’d like more personalized guidance on how to better support your employee through the stress of this pandemic, send us a message to schedule a call with our team

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