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Success Story: When Multiple Health Conditions Delay Recovery
Did you know that depression is two to three times more prevalent in individuals with physical disorders?1
If an employee has a serious physical illness or injury, he or she may be at risk for comorbidity, the presence of dual health conditions. As we’ve previously noted, the stress of a personal trauma or health condition can impact a person’s mental health.
When an employee develops a comorbid behavioral health condition, returning to work isn’t as simple as finding accommodations to address physical limitations. The additional diagnosis could contribute to an employee’s delayed recovery if he or she doesn’t receive the assistance needed to support both health conditions.
Workplace Possibilities consultants understand the potential setbacks an employee with a comorbid condition could face and can help you address them proactively to encourage an employee’s safe return to work.
Multiple Hardships Leave Employee Feeling Overwhelmed
A school psychologist succumbed to depression when a number of physical and emotional hardships were too much to bear. She was battling a bleeding disorder that caused iron deficiency and anemia, and led to insomnia, fatigue and weight loss. At work, her physical condition was contributing to a lack of concentration, depression and anxiety.
During that same year, there were a number of student deaths at the school where she worked. As the school psychologist, she struggled to find a way to deal with these tragedies, while at the same time working extra hours during the week and on weekends. The students’ deaths weighed on her conscience, and she worried she might lose her job.
Workplace Possibilities Offers Much-Needed Support
A Workplace Possibilities consultant contacted the employee with the goal of making sure she had the guidance and support she needed to return to work when she was ready.
After speaking with the employee, the consultant helped to facilitate ongoing communication between the employee and her primary care and behavioral health care providers — as the two providers weren’t connecting with each other to coordinate her return to work. The consultant encouraged collaboration between the providers, which helped to ensure the employee could resume her regular duties when she was ready.
The consultant also helped keep the employee on track by making sure the necessary return-to-work paperwork was completed and submitted. An employee with a mental health condition can become overwhelmed easily, and this employee was confused by what she needed to follow up on, and when. The consultant worked with the employee to understand what forms she needed to return to her employer and what she needed to get signed by her providers to keep her motivated and on the path to recovery.
The Right Assistance Makes All the Difference
When the employee achieved her goal of returning to the workforce, she was able to do so full time and without any restrictions. Once the employee was back at work, the consultant contacted the HR department again to confirm the employee’s transition had been a success and see if she needed any additional support to help her at work.
From this example, you can see that even the most complex situations can be overcome through a proactive approach that addresses all of an employee’s needs. Your commitment to the physical and mental well-being of your employees — together with support from a Workplace Possibilities consultant — can offer hope for a happy and productive workforce.
1 Comorbidity of Depression with Physical Disorders: Research and Clinical Implications, Chonnam Medical Journal, National Institutes of Health, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406996