Mental health coaching can be a solution for mild issues

Employers and health plans today face a growing responsibility for providing mental health care for their members. In fact, a recent survey facilitated by Teladoc Health found that 8 in 10 mental health support seekers are comfortable using mental health resources offered through an employer. But for those considering a solution, or even reevaluating their current offering, how do you ensure you are meeting the mental health needs of your member base both collectively and individually? Is there another way to meet and support members wherever they are in their mental health care journey?

The truth is mental health exists on a spectrum and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach or solution. Mental health needs fluctuate in type and magnitude over time and the need for education and support is often episodic. Members aren’t always sure what care they need, but they know the problem they have, and they want something that will help them feel better (and in a timely and convenient manner).

Read more: The hidden effects of pandemic PTSD on your employees

Knowing this, it’s important that employers and health plans provide a solution that not only spans the spectrum of mental health concernsfrom digital self-help to psychotherapy, but can also combine both elements to provide an entirely different but equally effective modality of care: mental health coaching.

Both a clinically proven and accessible option, mental health coaching is a unique blend of live human coaching supplemented with digital programming. With coaching, members work with a highly trained specialist who can teach and motivate them to apply evidence-based skills throughout their daily lives.

Expert-delivered, evidence-based care
Depending on the severity level of mental health conditions — looking mostly at uncomplicated, mild mental health concerns — mental health coaching can sometimes be a more effective alternative to therapy.

Mental health coaches are highly trained individuals with widely recognized and well-established credentials. The education and support provided by coaches uses the principles and techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapyand the unified protocol for emotional disorders.

Coaching sessions in nature are brief, which is generally appropriate for mental health concerns that are healthy, subclinical, or mild (without suicidal ideation and substance abuse). Typically, programs are time-limited running for a number of weeks and focused to optimize for efficiency, with the exact length being informed by evidence-based protocols.

Read more: Work less, feel better? The 4-day workweek tackles mental health challenges

And as previously mentioned, it’s the unique blend of human and digital support that makes mental health coaching so effective. The combination of one-on-one video coaching with experiential exercise and homework helps members build and practice evidence-based skills proven to help them start feeling better.

The member at the center
Perhaps the most important aspects of mental health coaching are that it is convenient and hyper personalized.

Sure, the timeline of a coaching program can be attractive for those with busy lives (ie, just 30 minutes a week for seven weeks), but it’s the ability for a member to schedule sessions with their coach on their own time, including evenings and weekends, that seals the deal.

Mental health coaching programs are also uniquely focused on an individual’s goals. Take, for example, an individual going through a break-up or divorce. That person would get support from their certified coach on that specific problem, and the education, exercise and homework would be built specifically to help the individual with that concern.

A vital piece of the mental health care puzzle
While therapy is a great fit for many, mental health coaching can produce clinical outcomes on par with therapy, and it can be a more cost-effective solution. And coaching is not a lesser alternative to therapy — in fact, it is a preferable option for some. For employers and health plans looking to expand mental health care access and manage costs, mental health coaching, especially when used as part of a larger mental health strategy, is a clear win.

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