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Morneau Shepell launches internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy

Morneau Shepell has recently launched Internetbased Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT). By delivering mental health services through a digital platform, iCBT responds to the growing need for expanding the reach of mental health resources in Canada.

Growing needs for mental health solutions

The statistics on mental health cannot be ignored. According to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, last year alone, 7.5 million Canadians struggled with a mental health or addiction problem. It is also estimated that in any given week approximately 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a mental health problem. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has estimated that absenteeism and presentism as a result of mental health issues costs the Canadian economy more than fifty billion dollars annually.

Current private and public resources are not able to keep up with the volume of care needed. As a result, many people struggling with a mental health issue are either not receiving support, or worse, using negative habits such as drug or alcohol use in a misguided attempt to cope. This gap in care stunts individual potential and strains Canadian workplaces, families and communities.

Although the some governments have recently announced mental health initiatives, public mental health resources are always strained. Refer to the 2017 Federal Budget, summarized in the April 2017 News & Views, and the 2018 Ontario Budget, summarized in the April 2018 News & Views, for more details on recent public mental health initiatives.

Digital mental health management

Although many private medical plans provide some mental health coverage for psychological therapy, such coverage is typically limited in scope due to the high cost of in-person therapy. Attention is now turning to alternative methods of care that can work in tandem with those already in place and can service a wider range of people.

Over the past decade, many digital health platforms have been developed in response to interest in personal health management. For example, many employers are offering health platforms online where employees can enter biometric data and lifestyle behaviours throughout the year and receive detailed reports about their physical, mental, workplace and social health levels.

Due to the fact that physical contact is typically not required to deliver mental health solutions, mental health is a prime category for digital health management. Studies have shown that digital mental health management is as effective as traditional methods in treating mental health issues.

Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour. CBT gives new ways of understanding and thinking about problems and provides exercises for skill building to help effectively deal with issues. CBT has been proven effective for dealing with mental health problems including depression, chronic pain, eating disorders, anger, addiction and low selfesteem. Furthermore, it is an approach that a person can do with a counselor or independently. CBT is intended to be time-limited and solutionoriented approach to individual problems.

Morneau Shepell’s iCBT program is a blended approach that is delivered with both the support of a counsellor and online platform. iCBT provides convenient online access as well as support from a counselor available on both an urgent and non-urgent basis. The convenience of iCBT means a better user experience, and an increased likelihood that the user continues their treatment plan.

iCBT allows users to access counseling in real-time as well as refer back to and reinforce their learning and skill-building at any time. Counsellors are trained to provide clinical expertise and tailor an individual program to suit the needs of each individual.

iCBT delivers value for both employers and employees

iCBT targets gaps in treatment available from public and private sources, which in turn reduces absenteeism and shortens return to work time frames. It can reduce wait times for care and can also reduce the stigma for seeking support that some employees may feel.

iCBT is suitable for employees who are absent from work due to a mental health condition and employees who are actively at work while managing chronic mental health concerns. It should be noted that iCBT is not suitable for all mental health conditions, and an assessment is done to determine whether iCBT is suitable for the employee before the program begins.

How to access iCBT

Morneau Shepell’s iCBT program is delivered as part of the firm’s LifeWorks line of business, which delivers solutions aimed at supporting employee wellbeing and engagement. It is a program that aligns with other employee support services that organizations arrange for their employees, such as Employee and Family Assistance, Absence Management and Workplace Support. Organizations who do not use other employee support services can also purchase access to iCBT on a standalone basis. The individual receiving support does not pay for the program, as the cost of the program is paid for by the employer.

News & Views - September 2018 (PDF)