Work & Wellness Newsletter | Spring 2024

Friday, May 10, 2024

As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness week, we invite you to learn how we can collectively prioritize the mental and psychological health of our members.

In this edition, we’re offering tips to improve mental health, a refresher on psychological safety, sharing resources our claims specialists use for complex claims, introducing one of our Vocational Rehab Specialists and sharing a reminder on the importance of using up-to-date claim forms.

Five tips to boost mental health

This week marks Mental Health Awareness week, reminding us to continue to prioritize our health, as well as the health of our members. A recent survey found that 69 per cent of employees say their mental health has stayed the same or worsened over the past year.

We’re sharing five tips from BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services that you can share with your employees to motivate them to prioritize their mental health:

  1. Stay Active: Mental and physical health are intertwined. Being physically active releases feel-good endorphins, helps maintain a stable body weight and improves sleep and overall health. An intense or expensive regimen is not required to reap the benefits – try introducing short bursts of activity throughout the day. There are endless ways to work in “movement snacks” into our daily lives, like having a walking meeting or taking the stairs in the office.
  2. Eat a brain-healthy diet: Support strong mental health by enjoying brain-healthy foods like beans, legumes, fish, nuts, avocados, dark leafy greens and even dark chocolate. Encourage members to share healthy recipes and offer brain-healthy snacks and meals.
  3. Get adequate sleep: Sleep is necessary for the body to maintain physical health and brain function. Limiting screen time for several hours before bedtime is important for good sleep hygiene – empower your members to turn off email or messaging notifications outside of their working hours.
  4. Take up a relaxation practice: Practicing yoga, mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing can reduce stress, help you stay in the present moment and increase gratitude. Provide lunchtime yoga or meditation classes for members to take a mid-day tranquility break.
  5. Talk to someone: Reflecting and processing emotions can be done over coffee with a friend, a session with a health professional or even compiling your thoughts and feelings by journalling. Remind members of mental health benefits they can access.

See additional tips and resources in our mental health toolkit.

Cultivating psychological safety at work

Creating a psychologically-safe environment, where employees feel comfortable being themselves without fear of negative consequences or judgement, should always be a priority. We invite Plan Administrators to reflect on each of the 13 factors of psychological health and safety in the workplace and review areas that can be improved. Below, we’re sharing the definition of one factor and a real-life example of how it directly relates to the workplace. Consider ways that you can be more conscious of your words and actions in the workplace to foster a positive work environment for everyone. 

Civility and Respect: Bullying and harassment is defined by WorkSafe BC as an action that someone “…reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.” If civility and respect are not present in a workplace, it can initiate disability claims and be a barrier for returning to work.

A real-life example from a Long-Term Disability claim: James stopped working due to his mental health decline. After several months of consistent therapy, medication and lifestyle changes, James made significant improvements and felt ready to return to work (RTW). However, he delayed initiating RTW discussions as workplace interpersonal issues, including passive-aggressive comments from his supervisor, were never resolved.

Lack of civility or respect is not always intentional or obvious. If we’re not conscious of our tone, or if issues are left unaddressed, it can lead to an absence or delay a return to work resulting in preventable claim costs and lost productivity.

Our disability tools and resources

The right support at the right time is key to effective disability claims management. Our Work and Wellness team has access to various resources to help optimize recovery and return-to-work outcomes. Here are some of the tools they may use:  

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists (VRS): After a completed assessment, these specialized team members recommend personalized treatment to optimize recovery. Read more about what a VRS does in our interview with Jivu T!
  • Medical Consultants: Not all Attending Physician Statements are equal – some offer clear, functional restrictions and limitations, while others can be vague. Our in-house Medical Consultants are valuable resources for medical reviews and doctor calls to help us move from confusion to clarity.
  • Medical Confidence Inc.: By working with Medical Confidence Inc., we support members in obtaining referrals and treatments from highly specialized health care providers. This often allows members to bypass the potentially months-long wait time for an assessment, resulting in an earlier recovery.
  • Medaca Health Group: Our partnership with Medaca Health Group allows us to work with psychiatrists to provide early screening services to fast-track the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions.
  • Various Mental Health Partners (InFocus Psychological Services, Tall Tree Health, Addiction Treatment): Our mental health partners provide evidence-based treatment and support to assist members in their recovery.

Meet one of our Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists – Jivu T!

Jivu is a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist (VRS) in the Work and Wellness department, with over a decade of experience in disability insurance as a kinesiologist and a disability claims specialist. She finds her role as a VRS rewarding as she gets to work alongside claimants on their path back to work and regular activities.

Jivu works with claimants to understand their limitations and identify which rehabilitation options will assist in their recovery. She then makes referrals to treatment providers, collaborates with health care providers to ensure the best approach, assists with return-to-work meetings, and helps plan and monitor gradual return to work plans.


Help us help members!

Please ensure members use the correct and most current forms, accessible via ADMINnet, when completing paperwork.

We’ve recently updated our Statement of Health form, which is used when new employees elect to sign up for optional additional insurance, like added Life Insurance or Accidental Death & Dismemberment benefits.

You can find the most up-to-date form conveniently on ADMINnet or access the new Statement of Health form here.