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How flexible benefits can protect mental health


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Marc Avaria establishes a clear connection between designing benefits for the modern workforce and supporting the mental wellbeing of working Canadians.

In a recent interview with Talent Canada, Medavie Blue Cross’s Vice President of Product & Disability Management says employers can play an essential role in promoting openness, understanding and support around mental health. Marc emphasized the importance of designing flexible plans with a customizable approach to meet the varying needs and expectations of today’s multi-generational workforce.

This is reflected in our claims data which reveals that baby boomers account for the highest drug spend (48%) among the five generations in the workplace, compared to 27% of Generation X, while millennials are the highest users of anti-depressants.

Each generation also has different preferences with how they access their health care. Younger generations especially want to manage their care on their own terms and are looking for greater flexibility, optionality, ease of access and new technology to connect with health professionals for diagnosis and treatment.

For this reason, employers may want to consider giving their employees access to virtual care services to address mental health challenges, such as internet-enabled cognitive behavioural therapy and pharmacogenetic testing, which are available through our Connected Care platform.

Building a psychologically healthy and safe work environment has never been more important than now with medical research consistently showing a steady decline in the mental health of employees since the start of the pandemic. According to the April 2021 LifeWorks Mental Health Index, almost half of Canadians (45%) felt the need for mental health support to deal with challenges arising from COVID-19-related social distancing and isolation. Meanwhile, costs associated with mental illness continue to rise. Prior to the pandemic, data from the Medaca Health Group showed that mental illness was consuming up to 14% of an organization’s net profits, while resulting absenteeism and presenteeism was costing Canada’s economy $20 billion every year. Looking ahead to a post-pandemic future, Marc described flexible benefits as fundamentally important to reframing mental health as a force for positive change and not a problem that has to be solved. Explore the mental health services and supports we have available to help Canadians through the pandemic and beyond — all of which can be accessed from the security, privacy and comfort of their own homes. Your Medavie Blue Cross representative will be happy to discuss how they can benefit plan sponsors and members.

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Medavie Blue Cross

For over 75 years, Medavie Blue Cross has been a leading health services partner for individuals, employers...