from Nick van Terheiden aka Dr. Nick, Director, ECG Management Consultations
Host of Healthcare upside down#HCupsidedown

Medicine has advanced on many fronts, from the ability to transplant major organs to developing vaccines for new viruses in record time. But in some areas, our understanding of illness remains rudimentary—no more so than mental health.

The term “mental health” has been used variously to describe a person’s physiological, emotional, and social well-being, but has long been associated with a wide range of disease states, many of which present in varying forms and severity with distinct and unique behaviors. For example, schizophrenia encompasses a wide range of symptoms related to thoughts, emotions and individual perceptions, and leaves people living in a world that is detached from reality. This is grouped together with anxiety, sadness and even depression.

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Simply put, we lack the tools to visualize the brain and its functions, and we struggle to understand how this complex organ works—let alone explain what happens when it doesn’t.

Against this background, it is no surprise that society struggles to cope with people who suffer from mental illness. Our lack of understanding has led to stigmas attached to people who suffer from mild, moderate and sometimes severe forms of illness that interfere with normal functioning in our world.

“Mental illness used to be thought of as something like schizophrenia, something that happened to someone on the street corner,” Jay Spence explains. ‘It’s there, it’s not me.’ Now everybody knows it’s in the workplace.”

Jay Spence is the Chief Strategy Officer of Uprise Health. In this episode, he describes the growing acceptance and awareness of mental health among employers and what organizations can do to destigmatize mental health issues and empower their employees to use the resources that are increasingly becoming part of comprehensive health and wellness packages. health. Here are some excerpts.

Measuring value in mental health decisions.

“One of our findings was that around one in three companies do not have a mental health solution installed. To be fair, part of the reason is that mental health solutions, in particular, have failed to really demonstrate a return on investment. That’s different than, say, a diabetes program, where you can specify a very clear metric of “pounds lost” or something like that. But when it comes to mental health, it’s much harder to tell what improvement is in someone. The “lost pounds” are easy to come by. But what does it mean when someone improves in terms of their mental health?’

The pandemic is changing the conversation around mental health.

“It’s always been the stigma issue. The good thing is that the conversation about stigmatization has changed so much and so quickly, and I think the gains we’ve made around that are night and day. Before the pandemic, I had conversations with employers, and the one that stood out to me the most was an HR manager who talked to me about his own mental health. And then at the end of that conversation, as we move into my pitch for the mental health solution, she says, “there’s no one in this company who has mental health issues. I have never seen anyone with a mental illness. This was before the pandemic. These days, you can go in and have a much more sophisticated conversation about distribution levels. They know what’s going on, the medications their employees are taking, and what to look out for in terms of trends. It’s completely different.”

The role of technology in overcoming stigma.

“What I’ve seen is the emergence of digital tools like the portal and people adopting them who aren’t used to it. Men are traditionally very hard to reach, especially at certain ages and demographics. Digital technology has allowed them to feel more comfortable going in and maybe starting a conversation with a chatbot and then moving on to higher levels of care.

“The way most modern mental health technology companies work is that there is a digital platform that performs several key functions. The first function is usually some sort of scoring and sorting mechanism. For someone who doesn’t want to jump on the bandwagon with a therapist, he might recommend going the digital route. For people who have moderate stress levels, they may be ideal for coaching. For people who see emerging or even diagnosed mental health problems, they clearly need more intensive treatment such as counseling. And then you have the services that are also included in the platforms—meetings for coaches, video scheduling and all that stuff.”

About the show
The US spends more on health care per capita than any other country on the planet. So why aren’t we doing better? Why have the principles of capitalism not prevailed? And why do American consumers have so much trouble accessing and paying for health care? Immerse yourself in these and other questions at Healthcare upside down with EKG Director Dr. Nick van Terheyden and guest panelists as they discuss the pros and cons of US healthcare and how to make the system work for everyone.

This article was originally published on ECG Management Consultations blog and is republished here with permission.

Destigmatizing Mental Health

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