Sun Life launching virtual mental health program

Clients will have the option to receive cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through virtual channels

Sun Life launching virtual mental health program
Sun Life is launching a new virtual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program that aims to expand mental health care for its plan members. The company is offering the service in partnership with the University of Regina.

“In an era where mental health claims represent almost 30% of disability claims, it's more important than ever to explore new ways of delivering effective therapy faster to those who need it,” said Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, assistant vice president for workplace health at Sun Life Financial Canada. “Offering virtual CBT provides a new and innovative way to reach our plan members and provide flexible solutions, especially to those living in remote areas where access to qualified care may be limited.”

Clients on an approved disability claim with mild to moderate anxiety or depression will be provided the option to receive therapy virtually. Those who opt to take the CBT program will go through five self-paced modules. Each client will be assigned a therapist, who will email weekly to track their progress and assess whether the online format is beneficial.

“Past research has shown virtual CBT to be just as effective as in-person therapy, with the added benefit of removing obstacles to care such as limited access to qualified therapists and mobility and time restrictions,” said Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, professor at University of Regina and director of the Online Therapy Program.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has reported that one in five Canadians is living with a mental illness. According to Dr. Pelletier, at least 500,000 Canadians miss work each week because of a mental health problem.

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