As we all take on more responsibility both at work and in our personal lives, there are pressures that continue to mount. Under certain circumstances, these pressures can build to a point where the activities of everyday life can become too difficult. In some cases, these stresses may leave an individual unable to work which could result in a disability claim and use of workers compensation benefits.
Knowledge regarding the importance of maintaining mental health and wellbeing is becoming more common and emphasized in group benefits plans and health and dental insurance plans. Individuals, and the companies that they work for, have placed renewed significance on work-life balance, which may ultimately relieve some of these mounting pressures that we all feel. Many health and dental insurance companies are also seeing the connection between mental and physical health, and the costs associated with it.
In an article from Benefits Canada (read here), the Canadian Mental Health Association has found that mental health issues/illnesses are more often found in those people dealing with poor physical health. In addition, people experiencing mental illness are more prone to develop a chronic physical condition, such as heart disease and stroke. The author of the article goes on to include statistics from a case study in a Conference Board of Canada report, highlighting the importance of using an “integrated approach” to managing workers compensation benefits and disability claims. The approach stresses the improvements that may come as a result of considering not only the physical factors, but also some of the non-medical factors that may present a barrier to an individual hoping to return to work. The case study looks at Canada Post, and their disability management & workers compensation benefits program. During the period from 2009 – 2012, following the implementation of an integrated approach to disability management in its group benefits plan, Canada Post saw an 80% decrease in the average duration of disability claims. The company saw their average disability claim which had previously lasted 233 days, decrease to just 48.5 days.
There are other examples available which illustrate a similar change, but what does it really mean? Another Benefits Canada article, has provided the following estimates relating to the disability claim costs associated with mental health:
The Canadian private sector’s annual spending on mental health amounts to $180 billion for short-term disability benefits and $135 billion for long-term disability benefits, according to a 2010 report by the Institute of Health Economics, an Alberta-based non-profit. The annual absenteeism and presenteeism costs stemming from mental health illness are estimated to be $6.3 billion.
As you can see – there are some very significant costs associated with mental health! These costs alone should be enough that we are taking the issues seriously, and looking for ways that we can help employees to achieve that balance in their lives through integrated group benefits and health and dental insurance plans.
David Maltman / Team Lead, Benefit Services / PEO Canada