Healthstat tackles mental health stigma with 'virtual health center'

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Healthstat, a provider of onsite, nearsite, and virtual employer-sponsored health centers, has debuted its new virtual mental health solution, Ment4Me, to employers on a national scale.

The virtual health center enables employers to improve access to high quality mental health services for employees who are seeking support for treatable mental health conditions. Ment4Me is integrated into Healthstat’s existing primary care model and was implemented to help reduce the stigma that can often be associated with mental illness.

“Healthstat focused on removing the stigma around seeking mental health support by leveraging technology, creating continuity of care with our health centers, and providing resources and trained professionals that make access to care easy, engaging and flexible,” says Dr. Eric Hart, chief medical officer of Healthstat. “Our hope is that the Ment4Me solution will enable greater access to care.”

One in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Additionally, one in 25 adults experience what SAMHS calls a “serious mental illness” each year. Yet almost 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive the care that they need, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“It is critical for employers to actively demonstrate their commitment to mental health parity,” Hart says. “Fear and stigma can only be overcome when employees believe their workplace provides a safe environment that supports their mental health needs without discrimination.”

Mental health services are a heavily in-demand benefit in the workplace, and 78% of companies offer an employee assistance program, which typically provides a mental health benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. The need has grown even more pressing, as employees struggle with the mental burden brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic. About 60% of employees have reported increased stress and anxiety related to the pandemic, according to a survey by Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit that works with employers in an effort to improve mental health resources.

Relying on telehealth and virtual mental health services has been critical for employers who want to address the mental health needs of their workplace population. The Healthstat benefit provides privacy and flexibility to seek the care they need, Hart says.

“By making tools and resources more easily available through technology and embedded services with our health centers, employees have options for the type of support they need and want, at the time and place of their choosing,” he says.

Ment4Me has three core services: artificial intelligence, which offers the chatbot “Tess,” a provider of on-demand mental health support. There is also a triage support line, and the integration of primary care and behavioral health.

A control trial by Northwestern University showed that conversations with Tess contributed to a reduction in symptoms of depression by 13% and symptoms of anxiety by 18% in just two weeks.

The triage line provides immediate support in a virtual environment. Crisis follow-up is provided to connect individuals to appropriate resources, including escalation to a virtual visit with a provider, as needed. Additionally, Healthstat has a team of licensed clinical social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists who serve as an extension of existing health center staff.

“Our mental health affects not only how we think, feel and act, but it also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices,” Hart says. “Employers know that healthy and happy employees are more productive and enable a greater customer experience. There is a lot to gain from connecting employees to the resources they need.”

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