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Mental health: preparing for the next new normal

The most broadly-discussed topic over the last 2 years has been mental and behavioral health. With the onset of a mental health crisis amidst the pandemic, employers quickly scrambled to find ways to better support their employees. We spoke to experts from two of the leading behavioral health solutions, Dr. Myra Altman, VP of Clinical Strategy & Research at Modern Health, and Désirée Pascual, Chief People Experience Officer at Headspace Health, to get their thoughts.

Based on a recent survey from Modern Health, 60% of leaders plan to revert back to pre-pandemic mental health strategies in 2022, a situation which Dr. Altman predicts could create backlash from employees in 2022.

“We’ve opened Pandora’s Box of Mental Health,” said Dr. Altman. “The pandemic has led to a focus on mental health, including its role in the workplace, and there’s no going back. While some may be anticipating a return to ‘normal’, it’s much more likely that we will need to find a ‘new normal’.”

Désirée Pascual from Headspace Health said the last two years have highlighted the inextricable link between employee mental health and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) initiatives. “Employers will continue to look for solutions that support a wide range of employees, moving away from the ‘one size fits all’ mindset,” Pascual said. “Culturally competent virtual care will play a critical role in meeting these needs.”

In 2022, Pascual also predicts that the focus on structured clinical data management and machine learning will reveal valuable insights and opportunities to expand accessible, inclusive mental healthcare. “Conversations will continue to shift from the ‘business case’ for DEI&B to the ‘wellness case’ for DEI&B, given the continued focus on building, retaining, and supporting diverse workforces.”

Ultimately, Pascual highlights that those employers who decide to embrace inclusive, flexible, human-centered workplace practices will benefit. “[Employers] will see a rapid ROI, including increased retention, engagement, and productivity.”

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