Why employee mental well-being should be a top priority for Colorado businesses

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The mental health of your workforce and your company’s bottom line are inextricably linked. In fact, the financial burden of work-related stress, burnout and untreated mental health conditions amounts to approximately $190 billion a year in additional health care expenses.1 The good news is that 80% of employees who receive treatment for a mental health condition report improved job satisfaction.2

The days of promoting hustle culture and corporate stoicism are behind us. Now more than ever, we all need support to stay balanced, build resilience, and feel mentally and emotionally strong.

A different approach to mental health care

For many years, conventional health care systems have siloed mental health and substance use disorder care from physical health. But the reality is, mental health and physical health are connected. A person’s health care should support both.

At Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit health plan and one of the largest multispecialty physician groups in Colorado, we care for our members’ total health: mind, body, and spirit. Mental health care and substance use disorder treatment and support are available throughout all Kaiser Permanente departments — in primary care, emergency care, and even specialty care — and via an array of self-care and wellness resources. Members can also choose from a network of extended affiliated provider options.

Kaiser Permanente psychiatrists, therapists, primary care providers, substance use disorder doctors, care team members, and pharmacists are all connected through a shared electronic health record (EHR). The EHR gives these providers instant, real-time access to members’ health records, which they use to coordinate care across medical specialties and locations and to make collaborative decisions tailored to members’ mental health needs. This type of care coordination is evident in how Kaiser Permanente members are screened for mental health concerns. Timely reminders in the EHR will indicate if a member is due for a depression screening when they come in for a routine primary care visit, skin check, or well-child exam. The screening will take place during the same visit, without the member having to make a separate appointment. If treatment is needed, the member’s care team will outline short-term recommendations while coordinating the next phase of care with one of Kaiser Permanente’s expert mental health specialists.

Our holistic approach includes a spectrum of care for mental health and substance use disorders that makes treatment more accessible and comprehensive. This includes:

  • Self-care apps and resources, including on-demand, text-based emotional support coaching
  • Wellness coaching
  • 24/7 medical advice by phone
  • Mental health screenings at Kaiser Permanente facilities
  • Chat online with a mental health specialist
  • One-on-one video counseling sessions with a Kaiser Permanente mental health professional or Amwell therapist
  • Specialty care from mental health therapists or psychiatrists
  • Recovery and social support
  • Urgent and emergency care3
  • Inpatient care

Making it easy to start a conversation about mental health

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression.4 Even if someone feels ready to seek out mental health support, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why Kaiser Permanente makes it easy. Members can talk about mental health concerns with anyone on their Kaiser Permanente care team at any time and access routine mental health care without a referral.

Once a year, people mark their calendars for their annual physical exam with a primary care provider. Kaiser Permanente offers a similar benefit for members’ mental health care. Members can schedule an annual mental health wellness exam to speak with a Kaiser Permanente behavioral medicine specialist to review and discuss important parts of their lifestyle, medical history, and overall well-being.

A system that generates results

Kaiser Permanente’s personalized, coordinated approach to mental health care can help lead to better outcomes.

For instance, in 2022, Kaiser Permanente Colorado was the highest-performing commercial plan by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for 43 of approximately 130 effectiveness of care measures, including follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness and metabolic monitoring (weight gain, diabetes risk, blood pressure) for youth on antipsychotic medications.5

Mental health impacts everyone, so prioritizing it is a valuable investment for Colorado employers. Check out Kaiser Permanente’s new mental health guide to learn how investing in mental health benefits your employees and your business.

1. 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics,” The American Institute of Stress, September 25, 2019.

2. “Investing in a Mentally Healthy Workforce is Good for Business,” Center for Workplace Mental Health, accessed March 19, 2021.

3. An emergency medical condition is a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you reasonably believed that the absence of immediate medical attention would result in any of the following: (1) placing the person’s health (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy; (2) serious impairment to bodily functions; or (3) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

A mental health condition is an emergency medical condition when it meets the requirements of the paragraph above or, for members who are not enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage, when the condition manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either of the following is true: The person is an immediate danger to himself or herself or to others, or the person is immediately unable to provide for or use food, shelter, or clothing due to the mental disorder.

4. National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018.

5. The source for data contained in this publication is Quality Compass® 2022 and is used with the permission of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Quality Compass 2022 includes certain CAHPS data. Any data display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion based on these data is solely that of the authors, and NCQA specifically disclaims responsibility for any such display, analysis, interpretation, or conclusion. Quality Compass is a registered trademark of NCQA. CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

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