Insider News: Pandemic challenges and strategies

In this week's Insider News, we're sharing stories on how employers can help their employees during this stressful holiday season, a study on high rates of depression among young adults, and the strategies some providers are using to make telehealth more accessible to the elderly.

2020 holidays are looking blue — here’s how to help stressed-out employees from Employee Benefit News

The holidays this year are going to post a challenge to our resilience and adaptability. Some ways employers can help employees through this difficult holiday season include:

  1. Be flexible about working hours.
  2. Be empathetic and manage your expectations.
  3. Offer programs focused on financial health, mental wellbeing, and substance use.
  4. Think about benefits designed to help the whole family.

United in pandemic misery: national survey finds at least moderate depression in nearly half of young adults from WBUR

A new survey funded by the National Science Foundation indicates that almost half of Americans age 18 to 24 show signs of at least moderate depression. This is compared to a more typical figure of 7 or 8%. This trend occurs across race, gender, and location.

Other findings include:

  • Ten times as many young adults report thoughts of self harm as before the pandemic
  • Three quarters report some type of sleep disruption
  • High depression rates in this age group are linked to transitions in young adults' lives, like new schools, jobs, and homes. Another factor may be their lower-paying and less flexible jobs compared to older workers

Help treating depression

During this difficult time it is especially important to make your employees aware of resources they and their dependents can access to help manage or treat their depression. The following articles from Optum, our behavioral health partner, can be a good starting point. 

You can also check with your health plan carrier to see if they offer any programs focused on behavioral health support.

4 strategies to make telehealth work for elderly patients from Harvard Business Review

For elderly patients, telehealth can be a great help when it comes to getting care during the pandemic. But, it also comes with complications that may be particularly challenging for the elderly. For employees who are caring for elderly parents or senior family members, helping them access the care they need can be particularly stressful. Some of those challenges--and possible solutions--include:

  1. For patients without suitable devices, some providers are delivering tablets to their and coaching them on how to use them. For those without an internet connection, "mobile medical assistants" can conduct an intake and assist in-person with using the technology.
  2. For patients with medical conditions that make it difficult to use telehealth, like hearing or vision impairment, providers can engage family members to facilitate virtual visits.
  3. When digital literacy is a barrier, practice visits that take place a couple days before an appointment can help patients learn about the technology and prepare.
  4. For patients with chronic conditions who need regular monitoring of their vital signs, providers can drop off devices like blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters and provide patients and their caregivers the education they need to self-monitor.

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