2016 NWCDC

Mental Health Matters

Progressive companies focus on behavioral health issues to enhance recovery from workers’ compensation injuries.
By: | November 30, 2016

The mental health of employees impacts their healing process as well as their productivity on the job.

“Mental health is always in the top three reasons … for absence,” said Kimberly George, senior vice president, Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., at a “Mental Matters: How Mental Health Impacts Productivity and Performance” panel on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

About 6,000 workers’ comp professionals and specialists attended the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Scott Daniels, director of disability, global benefits, Comcast NBC Universal, said that in revamping his company’s absence management program, the impetus was “about changing the employee experience,” rather than generating return-on-investment.

“We really need to focus on the intersection of physical and mental health.” — Hilary Mitchell, director of employee health absences, Pitney Bowes Inc.

The program requires all employees who file a short-term workers’ compensation claim to be evaluated for mental health issues, he said. The company leverages its employee assistance program for not only assessments, if the employee does not prefer a specialist, but also to help fill out claims paperwork.

Comcast pays for five free sessions with the EAP for employees, which it will expand to 10 sessions next year, Daniels said. It also pays the copay for employees who see their own specialists.

In six months, the company saw a 4 percent to 5 percent decrease in claim duration and a relapse rate that currently is “extremely low.”

Hilary Mitchell, director of employee health absences, Pitney Bowes Inc., said her company’s program includes physical and mental health education, on-site nutritionists and clinicians, tiered network and preventive drugs, a psychologist on retainer for executives, and a “dial ohm” telephonic meditation program.

Pitney-Bowes requires and pays for behavioral health assessments for all employees filing disability or drug abuse claims, she said.

“We really need to focus on the intersection of physical and mental health,” she said, but Mitchell noted that the “biggest challenge … is getting the word out” about company-provided benefits.

The late Anne Freedman is former managing editor of Risk & Insurance. Comments or questions about this article can be addressed to [email protected].

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