The health insurer implemented new wellness programs in response to the pandemic
By Donna Gibson, staff vice president, associate benefits, Anthem, Inc.
Many Americans have spent the last year quarantining and social distancing to protect themselves from the physical threat of COVID-19. Paradoxically, the very thing we are advised to do is having a negative effect in another important area of health – our mental health.
For example, the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. Spotlighting the pandemic’s impact on mental health, a 2021 State of Mental Health report by Mental Health America (MHA) reported a 93 percent increase in the total number of anxiety screens year over year, and a 62 percent increase in the total number of depression screens. The report based its findings on the more than 1.5 million people who have taken a screen on MHA Screening from January to September 2020.
According to the CDC that stress can leak into the workforce, affecting performance and productivity, engagement with one’s work, communication with coworkers, and physical capability and daily functioning. Fortunately, employers have resources available to them to help promote employee health and wellness. Workplace health promotion programs have proven to be successful, especially when they combine mental and physical health resources.
Anthem Inc. takes the health of its associates seriously. Healthy associates are the first step to fulfilling our mission of improving the lives and communities that Anthem serves.
Based on employee feedback, Anthem implemented programs to help associates take care of themselves. Examples of those programs are below.
- Winter Wellbeing. This education and content series helps associates and their family members deal with important emotional health issues, such as isolation, depression, coping with grief and loss, preventing suicide, and managing stress and tension. Through videos and other resources, Anthem is able to help associates navigate important emotional health challenges.
- Manager Sessions. These six sessions focused on how managers could take care of themselves first, how to apply unique benefits to situations their associates may be facing, how to identify signs of a potential issues associates may be facing and what to do and not to do about them and wrapped up with a focus on caregiving and how to accommodate associates who are acting as caregiving.
- CARE Community. Initially launched for the purpose of sharing ideas and providing support, the CARE Community evolved and expanded based on associate feedback. It now includes CARE Service, a 24/7 concierge program available for associates who need immediate assistance with various challenges, including: childcare and caregiver resources; talking through difficult and complex emotions; dealing with a distressing personal situation; the impact of COVID-19; and more. This service helps associates take the first step and connects them with resources.
- Papa. This service pairs associates with Papa Pals for companionship and assistance with everyday tasks – such as car rides to appointments, grocery and pharmacy door drops, light housework, yard work, and companionship with elderly family members. Papa services can be used for associates or on behalf of a loved one, and they’re able to use 10 hours of time for these on-demand services.
- ianacare. The ianacare free mobile app support associates who are family caregivers. By equipping them with caregiving coaches and other resources, ianacare is one more tool Anthem associates can access when starting to feel overwhelmed.
Through these, and many other wellness programs, Anthem is providing the peace of mind, encouragement, and empowerment to assure our associates that they are valued. Anthem calls upon all employers to identify strategies for managing stress and mental health challenges and to provide the necessary resources to help their associates be the happy, fulfilled and productive individuals they aspire to be.