In the last week and a half, I’ve listened in on health insurance webinars, HR-related company calls for legal updates, IRS regulatory changes, and reviewed more FAQs than my brain can possibly absorb. Looking at the big picture of this COVID-19 crisis has us all wondering how long this situation will last–i.e. when will life as we know it start up again–and what the fall out will be when it does. The most profound takeaway from all this education coming my way is this: We aren’t just fighting a virus; we’re fighting a mental health crisis too, and I’m afraid it may outlive the virus itself if we don’t recognize this and seek help when we need it most. It’s easy to convince ourselves that people have it worse than us and everyone is suffering so why make a big deal out of how “I feel?” Taking daily breaks to “take your stress temperature” is just as imperative as washing our hands right now. Stress has a way of snowballing, leading to a laundry list of health issues if left unchecked.
Finances play a large role in our overall well-being, as it does our sense of security, and happiness (to a point). Sense of purpose and connection, even if we may not realize how much a job fulfills that in our lives, plays a major role in our mental and emotional well-being. While other factors like age and immobility play a role, check out the data on how prevalent cardiac arrest is just after retirement if you question the magnitude purpose plays in our well-being. Daily routine, stress prevention, and feeling certain about what’s to come all play major roles in how we feel about ourselves, our lives, and our place in the world. We’re realizing, globally, how fragile our social structures may be and just how vital they are to our day to day lives. Social structures like childcare, access to education, restocked grocery stores, community events, and healthcare are all being heavily shaken by this crisis. Stress is ramped up, many Americans are out of work or unsure of their next paycheck, school isn’t available as a safe haven for weeks to come at minimum, and on top of all this, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of child abuse cases.
We should take this mental health issue very seriously. If someone in your employ, family, or life is expressing any level of depression, anxiety, or struggling with finances, I’m putting together a list of resources below and will update as much as possible with new information. Most, if not all, of these are 100% free and confidential.
Disaster Assistance for Employers
We’re writing more about this over at CuatroBenefits so I’ll keep this portion brief. If you’re struggling with day to day finances as an employer, please visit the government website related to low-interest disaster loans to help businesses. This applies to homeowners as well.
Make sure your company’s admin is receiving the health carrier webinar invites and bulletins. They’re updating FAQ pages daily and have been a wealth of support and information during this confusing time. While many health carriers aren’t providing premium relief, they’re communicating with employers who need grace period assistance.
Telemedicine under employer-based plans
If your healthcare plan offers any level of telemedicine, it’s imperative you update your population with a simple flyer on what’s available, what cost exists, if any, and how to use it. Average waits are around 2 hours during this high volume time, but telemedicine is a great way to seek medical care while social distancing. Many telemedicine companies, like HealthiestYou, offer mental healthcare visits, and are vastly underutilized. Whether someone believes they have the virus, telemedicine services are a great place to start asking questions, seeking help from medical professionals, and tracking symptoms. Plus, speaking with a licensed therapist via phone may be the quickest way someone can seek help immediately for mental health issues. Encourage employees to call the number on the back of their ID card or reach out to their broker liaison for more information.
Resources for employees & families
Firstly, because I know how heart-breaking this issue is, I want to start by sharing Prevent Child Abuse America’s resources and tips for parents, children & others. If you or someone you know is involved in any type of domestic abuse, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Reminder from last week’s article to connect with co-workers, family, and friends over text, web conference, and FaceTime more than you usually would. We’re all social creatures, made to connect, and the more we continue to do so, the better off we’ll all be.
Basic healthcare usage & access to mental health resources
We are encouraging members to register with their respective healthcare insurance sites. This helps ensure that carriers (for telemedicine purposes also) have up to date email and phone details for each member. You can also access a wealth of tools, resources, and latest information on your member portal with these carriers.
Optum is offering a FREE 24/7 Emotional Support Line to anyone who needs to speak with a trained mental health specialist about any subject. They also include referrals to community resources to help with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters. You can call the number here: 866-342-6892 or visit LiveandWorkWell
For those who prefer not to call, SANVELLO is an app for both iOS and Android users, offering digital care, coping tools, and peer support 24/7. You do not have to belong to any health insurance carrier to use it.
Last but certainly not least, consider your daily purpose. If it’s changed drastically and you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety or stress as a result, please consider reaching out and discussing it with friends, family, or one of the resources above. We’re truly all in this together, but we’re also affected in unique and diverse ways. It’s OK to not feel OK right now. There are many ways to build purpose into our daily lives, even if it looks different than it did 2 weeks ago. Refer to last week’s article for some simple tips on keeping our cool, but never be afraid to reach out to speak with a professional. Our mental health matters and is tied to our holistic well-being.