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Gradual adoption of behavioral health in comp as stigma eases

stressed nurse

One of the biggest challenges for health care employers in addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of their employees is overcoming the stigma associated with getting help. 

“Particularly with health care workers, historically there has been a stigma around seeking mental health treatment,” said Tammy Bradly, Birmingham, Alabama-based vice president, clinical product development, at Genex | Coventry, part of Mitchell International Inc. “Some fear if they seek treatment, it could affect their licensure.”

Stigma around behavioral health issues and addiction is “overwhelming,” said Dan Jolivet, Portland-Oregon-based workplace possibilities practice consultant at Standard Insurance Co.

In a study of health care workers, the brokerage found that more than half believed that if they disclosed an addiction issue to their employer they would be fired. In addition, the study found that the number of workers who reported that they were struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues increased 4% in 2020 over 2019, with nearly 30% saying they had missed work due to these issues. 

The pandemic is raising awareness about the importance of behavioral health care in treating stress, depression and anxiety, said Lori Daugherty, St. Petersburg, Florida-based CEO of IMCS Group Inc., which provides behavioral health care to injured workers in the workers compensation system. 

“One of the interesting things is that COVID has made adoption of behavioral health in workers compensation systems … better than it was,” Ms. Daugherty said.

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