Best Practices for Substance-Misuse Benefits
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on the nation’s mental health.
Substance misuse among employees has increased, which has been made easier because addictions are easier to conceal in remote and hybrid work situations.
The situation was already a serious problem, but human resource professionals have found that substance use, misuse and abuse have increased significantly since the pandemic. In 2014, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 55.1% of the US population with substance-use disorders held full-time jobs. Due to the pandemic, however, this figure has likely risen significantly.
Employers need workers to be productive and engaged, so offering substance-misuse
benefits would often make sense. By failing to help employees who are either experiencing substance use disorders themselves or have a family member in this situation, employers are putting at risk the investment they made in that employee.
Best Practices When Offering Substance-Misuse Benefits
When deciding on what benefits to offer employees affected by substance misuse, employers should follow some best practices, such as offering a variety of solutions, ensuring easy access, destigmatizing the issue, and protecting employee privacy.
Offering Various Solutions
Employee assistance programs (EAP) are not always sufficient to address substance misuse issues. These programs cover a limited number of visits, and privacy might also be a concern. As a result, employees might prefer to avoid EAPs.
By offering various other options, employees are more likely to take advantage. Therefore, employers should also consider offering telehealth, contingency management programs, digital support, peer support and recovery ambassador programs.
Ensuring Easy Access
The more challenging it is for an employee to access substance-misuse benefits, the less likely they will take advantage. Employers offering telemedicine services should ensure that their employees can easily access mental health professionals.
It might even make sense to provide access to a separate service dedicated to mental health so employees can easily connect with various professionals. Another advantage of telehealth services is that employees don’t need to leave work when undergoing treatment.
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