New benefit area demands advisor attention

Advisors who aren’t focussed on this area could be in danger of losing business.

New benefit area demands advisor attention
After years of being treated with apprehension, the discussion around mental health is gaining traction in society and spilling into the benefits discussion.
“It’s the buzzword now,” said Lucette Wesley, Disability and Life Claims Services Director at Pacific Blue Cross. “Everyone’s focussed on mental health.”
This week is the Canadian Mental Health Association's (CMHA) 64th Annual Mental Health Week. Through events like this employers are really starting to understand the impact mental health can have on their business.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, disability claims alone can be responsible for up to 12 per cent of overall Canadian business payroll costs.
“It’s becoming a high cost item because it’s not just disability claims; it’s also loss of productivity, etc.,” said Wesley. “So advisors are seeing that request coming from employers, about how do we get help to deal with this and what insurance companies are able to kind of provide that support.”

Many insurers offer resources plan sponsors, including train to recognize mental health issues, help improving mental health literacy and reducing stigma, providing solutions for building a mentally healthy workplace culture and help getting employees who are frequently absent or on disability back to health and work faster and more effectively.

There needs to be assessments of where employers are today and then identifying what areas might be the areas of weakness and working with the available tools to fix them.

“Many, many resources are available,” she said. “But putting it in place is very difficult. There are some very large employers that have started and there are others just on the cusp just starting to recognize and be aware and looking at how they can move forward.”
But advisors need to make sure they get buy-in from senior management when implementing a mental health program.
“The number one [for advisors and employers] is to get senior support,” said Wesley. “It has to come from the top. The whole origination has to recognize, if they need to move to a psychologically healthy workplace that it needs to start at the top.”