November 04, 2020
A company wishing to take care of its staff's overall wellness can have no better partner than a health insurer. In addition to offering the best medical cover, a partner in health provides the opportunity to access a vast number of solutions and tools focused on caring for the workforce’s mental health. These include: psychotherapy by videoconference, employee assistance programmes, online life skills courses, access to content containing practical advice and interactive webinars with professionals worldwide. Health insurers are also well placed to provide advice on implementing mental health management plans within the company.
The pandemic is affecting the mental wellness of employees of small and medium-sized companies. Changes to work processes and environments, lack of job security, fear of infection, the restrictions, and constant misinformation are testing the workforce’s psychological health. Employers are directly responsible for preventing all of these factors from affecting the workforce. Forward thinking SMEs are investing in caring for employee health & well-being in a holistic manner.
According to Cigna’s recent ‘COVID-19 Global Impact’1 study, in August 2020 8 out of 10 people worldwide acknowledged that they were under stress. In the United Kingdom this equates to 71% of the population. Most surveys acknowledge that these levels are manageable for now but, if they are not properly brought under control and managed, they could end up affecting long-term health. Prolonged exposure to this state of constant tension brings physical consequences such as fatigue, nausea and head, muscular and abdominal pain. In addition, behavioural effects can include nervousness, irritability, apathy, sadness, confusion and decreased concentration. In the worst cases, this can also lead to more serious mental disorders such as depression, or cause chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes.
It is, therefore, essential that SMEs pay particular attention to the emotional state of their teams to mitigate these consequences. Proactively approaching this issue from within the company and providing the necessary support tools, will result in healthier and, therefore, more engaged and productive employees. They’ll learn how to adopt a resilient attitude allowing them to combat stress and its effects efficiently. In return, employers can expect to reduce the costs linked to absenteeism and presenteeism.
The good news is that companies do not have to face this challenge alone. Through their medical plans for SMEs and employer services, health insurers offer a vast number of solutions and tools intended to care for mental health.
Solutions to care for emotional wellness through health insurance
Health insurers are, more than ever before, strengthening their services focused on mental wellness. Medical plans offered to SMEs include a wide range of solutions to help them to care for their employees’ health in a holistic manner. This includes:
- Psychological cover. Health insurance provides quick access, sometimes including self-referral options, to an extensive team of psychologists and specialist facilities treating illnesses such as stress, anxiety, depression, addiction and sleep disorders. There are typically options for outpatient cover only or cover to include inpatient stays. And, during COVID-19, most insurers have extended services to include remote therapy sessions.
- Well-being services. Some health insurers offer a cash amount which employees can use towards the costs of certain well-being services which wouldn’t otherwise be covered under a medical plan. Employees can access therapies to suit their specific health goals, without the need for a medical referral.
- Remote GP consultations. Many health insurers now offer an App which typically include access to remote GP consultations for health advice, specialist referral and prescriptions. For employees with a mental health concern this is a discreet and convenient method of accessing initial advice and care.
- Online and telephone psychological guidance. Some health plans include access to an Employee Assistance Programme including emotional wellbeing web-based and telephonic support to help identify and solve problems faced in everyday working and family life. For no additional cost to the employee, this includes support with stress, bereavement, mild depression, relationship issues, parenting concerns, and more.
- Life skills online courses. Additionally, some insurance companies give their plan members access to online self-serve life skills courses, again for no additional cost to the employee. The courses are designed to help employees learn to be calmer, more confident and stay in control.
- Health and well-being content. It is more important than ever to have reliable sources of information offering practical resources on health & well-being issues. Conscious of this need, some health insurers are offering their clients (plan members and wider companies) informative content supported by the best healthcare professionals: articles, videos, infographics, podcasts, white papers, guides, etc. Currently, the main topics covered are stress, anxiety and depression.
- Interactive webinars with professionals worldwide. Since the pandemic began, many health insurance companies have joined the boom in virtual, interactive events, with global experts in the sector and in which users can ask questions and actively participate. Through these webinars, topics of interest, such as the management of emotional health, are being covered in workplaces.
- Advice for implementing plans to manage mental health within companies. In addition to offering companies and individuals a wide range of cover for mental and emotional support, many insurers also offer support to companies to implement health & well-being plans in which stress management is one of the main issues to be addressed.
- Stress visualisation technology. Insurers like Cigna have joined the digital revolution, using cutting-edge technology to measure stress. In this case, the company has decided to combine quantitative analysis with digital arts, creating a tool that allows us to calculate and evaluate a person’s stress levels through a graphic image represented by a heat map: cold colours show low levels, whilst hot colours show higher indicators.
Ultimately, an insurer is much more than simply an intermediary between a healthcare facility and a company. Right now, an SME wishing to take care of its staff, but which does not have the resources or knowledge to do so, can have no better partner than a health insurer. This is because it does not just offer the best health insurance cover, but also provides the ability to access a vast number of tools and services focusing on the overall wellness of the workforce, mental health being one of the main issues.
Health insurers such as Cigna can be a huge help in providing this added value. If you would like to know what it can offer you, this link will give you all the information you need.
Offering added value: ‘Stress 1.5: Check-In’, Cigna’s campaign to reduce stress in the workplace
To raise the corporate sector’s awareness of the importance of caring for the emotional wellness of its staff, identifying and controlling high levels of stress affecting the workforce, Cigna has recently launched the global campaign ‘Stress 1.5: Check-In’. Through this initiative, it offers companies all kinds of practical resources helping them to create a supportive culture based on continuous contact (‘check-ins’) and constant support:
- ‘The Cigna Check-In’ and ‘How to’ series of videos, in which Cigna’s experts and other global health and business professionals offer their opinion on the circumstances, provide some practical advice and explain why making a habit of contacting others can help to keep stress at a manageable level.
- “Tool kit” comprising guides and white papers with high-quality information so that employees and managers can understand exactly what stress is, what impact it can have and how to manage it, both on an individual level and in terms of helping others to do so.
- Webpage with interesting articles and resources. This includes the main conclusions of Cigna’s `COVID-19 Global Impact’ study (in three editions: May, July and October) and the ‘See stress differently’ test, which, through a questionnaire, estimates the user's stress levels.
Cigna designs health insurance solutions that will help improve employee wellness and productivity while helping you control your costs. For more information on how a Cigna health insurance plan can help you improve employee health and wellbeing, please contact our Commercial Business Centre on 01475 788779 or visit our website.
1Cigna. ‘COVID-19 Global Impact’: Resilience and wellness during the pandemic. Dates: August 2020. Publication date: October 2020. https://comms.cigna.com/checkin-uk