Episode 29: How employers can respond to the mental health crisis

May 10, 2021

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Episode details

Listen in as Dr. Philip Levendusky of the world-renowned McLean Hospital joins Unum’s Swapnil Prabha, to discuss the worsening mental health crisis in the U.S. and how innovative employer behavioral health programs can help remove the barriers to care. 

  • A continuing trend. Mental health issues have been on the rise for the past five years. The pandemic worsened the trend by robbing people of their feeling of control. Pandemic-prompted remote work caused many people to suffer anxiety and depression – and neglect healthy physical habits. [2:18]
  • Gen Z suffering most. People aged 18 to 24 accounted for 56% of those reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorders during the pandemic. As the generation soon to be the largest in the workplace, they need support from employers to help deal with what will be long-term mental health issues. [8:21]
  • Access is major difficulty. Inpatient psychological treatment, in short supply before the pandemic, reached critical scarcity, with some young people spending as much as seven days in the emergency room waiting to be admitted. [13:17]
  • Stigma is continuing barrier. Employers need to take the weight off the people in their organizations by making it clear that needing and seeking help is OK.  [14:10]
  • Digital benefits can help solve for access. By directing people with less serious issues to digital and self-help tools, innovative behavioral health programs can help with demand management. [16:30]
  • Employee advocacy is critical. From training to policies to making sure behavioral health providers are transparent and accountable, employers have a big role to play in helping employees take advantage of the behavioral health benefits offered at work. [18:00]
  • Returning to the workplace Returning to work will have issues of its own, which employers can combat with clear communications, small steps and promotion of resources to help. Going into a new reality with wellness front and center will solve problems that have been lurking since well before the pandemic. [19:45]
  • Additional resources: Webinar, Supporting behavioral health at work.

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Phillip Levendusky headshot

Dr. Philip Levendusky

Director of Psychology, McLean Hospital; Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School

For more than three decades, Dr. Philip Levendusky has directed and/or developed more than 30 cutting-edge clinical programs at McLean Hospital. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a pioneer of integrated cognitive-behavioral treatment systems for persons with serious mental illness. In addition, he has inspired a generation of students to achieve excellence in the pursuit of their professional careers.

Swapnil Prabha headshot

Swapnil Prabha

Vice President, Workforce Wellness Solutions — Unum Group

A thought leader in the insurance industry, Swapnil Prabha's work is helping to shape the digital future of employee benefits. She has helped to develop solutions such as Unum Behavioral Health, which addresses the full continuum of mental health for employees from baseline measurement to a complete range of easily accessible resources and therapeutic interventions. She also leads strategic direction and capability priorities for Unum Leave Logic — an industry-leading leave education and planning SaaS solution.

About the host

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Clare Morin

Unum Content Marketing Manager

Clare Morin is the Content Marketing Manager at Unum and a journalist who’s spent the last 20 years interviewing hundreds of thought leaders on topics ranging from wellness to culture, finance, human resources and technology. Born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong and based in the U.S. since 2009, she brings a global outlook to the HR Trends studio.

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