Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

A rising number of workers report a negative state of mental health, with high levels of depression, anxiety, absenteeism and disability claims.dusan petkovic/Handout

The workplace is facing a perfect storm for burnout and other mental and physical health issues.

Amidst economic uncertainties and cost-cutting measures, more and more businesses are running lean. That puts added pressure on their staff, many of whom are already struggling with changing roles, added workloads, work-life balance, personal issues and pandemic fallout.

Employers have a tough challenge. How can they keep valued staff healthy, boost their resilience, and improve organizational performance through a productive and happy workforce? A robust health and wellness program can support all those goals, says Karen Adams, CEO & President at CloudMD, a health services provider.

“Employers of choice are those who truly care about employee well-being, and provide evidence that they want you to lead a healthier life both while at work and at home,” says Ms. Adams.

With the increasing demands on employees, something has to give – and it’s often their health.

One survey of Canadian employees found that 21 per cent report a negative state of mental health. Right now, half a million Canadians miss work each week for mental health reasons, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Studies have shown that the Canadian economy loses at least $50-billion annually due to mental health issues, and that chronic mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are major reasons for long-term disability. In some cases, such issues are by far the leading contributor. A report from RBC Insurance found that in 2021 half of long-term disability claims among younger employees (ages 18-35) related to mental health.

Do employees feel cared for around their health and wellness needs? It depends who you ask. A survey from Mercer Canada reported that four in five Canadian employers believe they have the programs and practices to support mental, physical and emotional well-being of their teams. Yet various employee surveys reveal that staff often find their employee benefits plans lacking.

Ms. Adams says one reason for the disconnect is that many workplaces invest only in an employee and family assistance program (EFAP). However, these traditionally aren’t designed to address chronic mental health concerns.

By providing a continuum of mental health supports, from prevention to treatment for chronic conditions, employers can significantly reduce absenteeism and lower disability costs.

Open this photo in gallery:

A comprehensive and preventative approach to wellness can lead to higher employee satisfaction, resilience and productivity.jacoblund/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Another limitation is that many programs don’t have quantifiable outcomes. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, says Ms. Adams. Without the right data, employers can’t accurately show if their investment is making a difference to employee health or to the bottom line.

One alternative is Kii, a personalized and connected program from CloudMD that’s a one-stop workplace solution. Kii enables employees to tap into tailored health services such as EFAP, telemedicine, mental health support and occupational health and safety. CloudMD focuses on data collection across all services, to provide integrated reporting and insights on employee satisfaction, return on investment (ROI) and clinical outcomes.

Taking a preventative approach to wellness

Kii, CloudMD’s flagship offering, gives employees access to 5,700-plus clinicians, including 1,800-plus mental health professionals, 1,600-plus allied health professionals, 1,400-plus doctors and nurses, and 600-plus occupational and physical therapists.

The service includes a 24/7 multilingual Clinical Response Centre, plus virtual care, in-person options and live telephone support – the right care, when and how individuals want it.

With roughly 4.6 million Canadians reporting they don’t have access to primary care health services, Kii fills a significant gap for many.

Employees start with a nurse navigator, who Ms. Adams says acts like a concierge for wellness. They’re then guided through a professional intake session. This information is used to coordinate a connected care team, who design a customized care plan to address the employee’s physical and mental health concerns.

The Kii model underscores the importance of taking a preventative approach to wellness, not just a reactive one, as part of having a productive workforce. That’s why investing in a person’s mental health fitness should be part of a company’s supports, explains Ms. Adams.

Kii services include Therapist-Assisted Internet Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (for conditions like managing stress, alcohol use or chronic pain), a mental health coach, and self-guided online resources. These services can provide the foundation employees need to ride the ups and downs of life.

“Mental health fitness is being able to help people better cope with life challenges and build the resilience they need to deal with everything that gets thrown their way,” says Ms. Adams.

She says that while mental health, physical health and workplace safety are all linked, employees traditionally have had to deal with separate services to find support in these areas. This can lead to confusion and frustration, which Ms. Adams says often ends with the employee not seeking help at all.

“The way to empower healthier living is to make access to services simple and deliver care in a holistic, personalized and connected way. Only then will workplaces see the positive health outcomes and organizational ROI they’re hoping to achieve with these programs,” says Ms. Adams. “This philosophy is at the core of everything we do at CloudMD and it’s why we built Kii.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with CloudMD. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

Interact with The Globe