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How to support healthcare workers’ mental health

With healthcare workers’ mental health in jeopardy, learn how lifestyle spending accounts can provide mental health support for healthcare professionals.

 Min Read 

The struggles of healthcare workers’ mental health

If the past few years have shown us anything, it's that employees in all sectors are experiencing stress and burnout. Perhaps in no field is this more true than healthcare, with doctors, nurses, technicians, and others within the medical system working tirelessly to keep people well, risking their health on the front lines during a global pandemic. COVID-19 added insurmountable pressure to an already overextended workforce, exposing fractures in the healthcare industry that could have a broad, long-lasting impact on the field as a whole. As a result, hospitals have experienced a mass exodus of clinicians from the industry, leaving it on the brink of implosion with employers paying double to triple a doctor’s salary to replace one. 

According to a Trusted Health survey, three in four nurses have reported burnout post-coronavirus. What’s more, 64% of responding nurses have experienced depression, with the same percentage noting a decline in physical health. The statistics for trauma and thoughts of self-harm among nursing staff are chilling, and despite a 26% decrease in average mental health rating since 2019, most say they are “unlikely to seek support at work for mental health issues that could negatively impact their ability to do their job.” Between burdensome caseloads, long hours, and enduring hostility from the patients they care for, the psychological welfare of these employees is in jeopardy. 

In the aftermath of the pandemic, mental health resources are more critical than ever to support healthcare workers and destigmatize mental health issues. The first step can be as simple as open communication. Then, ensure that employees are aware of the programs in place in your organization and encourage their use. This blog offers recommendations for offering mental health support for healthcare professionals. 

How companies can provide mental health resources for healthcare workers

Everyone’s needs are unique, and one solution does not necessarily fit all. When it comes to designing programs to support healthcare employees, companies should follow the example set by those that have had success. Progressive financial and tech firms have made a concentrated effort to attract incumbent talent seeking better work-life balance and flexible benefit programs than the industries historically allowed. In response, many offer lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) with diverse coverage for the expenses associated. 

With much-needed self-care and support, below are three areas to focus on when offering mental health support for healthcare workers.

1. Look at well-being holistically.

Well-being takes many forms, so a holistic approach that touches both working life and home life for employees can improve the effectiveness of an LSA program. Consider LSA categories that balance personal well-being while promoting a positive work culture based on inclusion, empathy, and collaboration. It’s important to maintain open communication to respond to emerging needs. 

In general, prioritize the six pillars of well-being and design programs focused on:

  • Family and relationships
  • Education and career
  • Wellbeing and lifestyle
  • Basic health and protection
  • Money and wealth
  • Work and performance

In addition to improving mental health factors, well-being initiatives have been shown to entail savings for employers. For example, a meta-analysis from Health Affairs revealed that both medical costs and absentee costs dropped by nearly $3 for every $1 spent on well-being programs. 

2. Prioritize resilience programs.

According to McKinsey, building resilience can enhance morale, job satisfaction, and a sense of purpose. Growing a resilient workforce begins at the employee training level with programs integrated with the theme of mental health awareness. The curriculum should include details about mental health principles and interactive simulations of potentially traumatic scenarios where workers can practice their responses in a safe and controlled setting.

Another study referenced by Frontiers suggests that employees need to see improvements in sleep quality, positive emotions, and general life satisfaction to develop greater psychological resilience. Consider LSA programs that support a variety of stressors, such as burnout, PTSD, and other mental health challenges. To address these pain points, healthcare leaders must implement lifestyle benefits that workers can use in a practical and impactful way, such as reimbursement for sleep-improvement technology, mobile therapy apps, nutritious meal kits, and more.

3. Keep trauma top of mind.

Healthcare workers face a multitude of possible traumas daily, the effects of which are cumulative and can push them to a breaking point. As an employer, be prepared to recognize the many faces of trauma and accommodate team members who require extra support. While doctors and nurses who witness death regularly may need specialized grief counseling, overworked administrative staff could get more out of programs that help out at home. Individual and group therapy sessions, childcare assistance, and digital meditation tools are all examples of beneficial resources that can ease the trauma and are covered by LSAs. 

Design a flexible lifestyle spending account program to support mental health long term

The process of implementing a flexible LSA program is ongoing, not one and done. Since the goal is a lasting reduction of stress, ensure that employees have an accessible platform to voice any concerns as they arise. Continue being proactive by monitoring employee engagement using Forma’s comprehensive site metrics, running anonymous surveys to evaluate the program’s performance, and refining it as needed. Your program should be dynamic to adapt to trends and anticipate evolving needs. 

Schedule a consultation with Forma today to find out how to fight burnout and retain a mentally healthy workforce with flexible LSAs.