A hot topic at many of my client meetings is mental health. When someone has a seizure or a stroke in an office, we inherently know what to do – call 911. What happens when that crisis is a panic attack, or if you see signs of severe depression or notice an alcohol or substance abuse problem in a member of your workforce that needs immediate attention? I think of these mental health issues as ticking time bombs; employers aren’t trained to see the signs and when they do it’s hard to know how to intervene. An employee assistance program (EAP) or behavioral health telemedicine provider can be a great resource, but where do you turn if the employee needs to see someone in person – and right away?
Our country, especially in the New York area, has an incredibly high demand for competent therapists and social workers who can help ease these situations. But when an employee or employer doesn’t already have an established relationship with a therapist who can handle acute mental health issues the employee often ends up lost in the shuffle at the hospital after a 911 call. Not an optimal situation for anyone to be in, let alone a valued worker.
There has been an answer to the overarching demand for urgent care mental health resources to help solve these issues – calling your EAP, behavioral health telemedicine, hotlines like the Disaster Distress Helpline provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – giving employees quick access to providers.
The solutions so far have been less promising for employees who would like to see someone in person, but I have noticed an increased focus on mental health urgent care clinics which are cropping up around the country.
I’m optimistic that urgent care mental health solutions will continue to expand with the addition of technology to help employers see warning signs and know how to appropriately and swiftly respond to mental health crises at the workplace. Keep an eye out for advances in this field.