“Evidence-based mental health training is vital to identify and eliminate stereotypes, especially surrounding substance use, which represents over 30 per cent of mental health issues, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). It should be a top priority for plan sponsors in the post-COVID workplace,” says Elliot Stone, President of ALAViDA, a LifeSpeak company. “Structural stigma is baked into the workplace, and it prevents people from accessing the help they need pre-disability. If we learn to communicate with empathy and encouragement, rather than with judgement while overburdening those seeking treatment, we will see better outcomes.”
The survey also found that the acceptance of virtual care has accelerated. Digital services like ALAViDA are changing the treatment landscape by providing employers with an opportunity to expand access to evidence-based care that increases treatment success while driving down costs. An analysis of the effectiveness of the ALAViDA platform conducted by the Digital Health Circle, a BC-based not for profit that partners with more than 250 organizations across Canada, found that 86 per cent of clients reduced consumption and 79 percent increased control over their use.
“Substance use has always been costly for employers, but is hidden in the workplace—and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” says ALAViDA’s Stone. “Increased reliance on substances as a coping strategy in these stressful times will have significant impacts on employees and their families. Mental health and addiction experts are predicting that the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and research tells us questions about substance use were already not asked often enough, creating a dearth of data. We need to know the extent of the problem so we can provide solutions.”
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