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Symptom vs. Cause: The Importance of Root Cause Analysis in Behavioral Health

Feeling down in the dumps, unable to shake it off.

Snappish and irritable, despite a concerted effort to remain calm and unflustered.

Difficulty sleeping and racing thoughts – or sleeping way too much and unable to concentrate.

Any of these symptoms may indicate a mental health concern. They might be a response to some new or ongoing stressor at work or at home, or perhaps symptoms have been present for months or even years.

If you’re an employer, you’ve probably witnessed the effects of mental health issues in the workplace. They impact staff members’ ability to stay focused, be productive and maintain a positive attitude. If left untreated, mental health concerns can drag down morale and negatively impact the work environment. Moreover, they may actually lead to higher medical costs down the line.

The Mental Health Crisis

Here in the U.S., we’re experiencing a mental health crisis. A provider shortage, insurance reimbursement challenges, cost and access obstacles, and even the stigma of mental illness itself are barriers to behavioral healthcare. Likewise, substance abuse has a chokehold on our nation – from widespread alcoholism and opioid abuse to Xanax, Lorazepam and Valium prescription medication abuse and dependence. All across the country, Americans are self-medicating or depending heavily on prescribed drugs in order to feel better. But treating the symptoms instead of dealing with underlying mental and emotional issues is making matters worse.

That’s why analyzing the root cause of any mental health concern is so critical. For some people, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be key to managing depression and anxiety, particularly if they’re dealing with a chronic condition resulting from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For others, talk therapy is invaluable, especially when dealing with situational issues like family problems or workplace difficulties.

Consider the following scenarios:

Jess

Jess was diagnosed with depression when she was a teenager. She has been taking an antidepressant for 25 years, and it does help to soften the edges, but it’s not quite enough. Through talk therapy, Jess has learned how to manage her depression by exercising regularly, listening to music and getting enough sleep. Her therapist also helps to normalize her feelings. She knows her chemicals are a little out of whack, and knows she’s prone to feeling down.

Rather than agonizing over her negative feelings, she uses tips learned in therapy to manage her condition. She is a fully functional adult with satisfying relationships and a promising career – and she benefits by having access to supportive mental health services when she needs them.

John

Now in his 30s, John’s younger years were marked by laughter and enthusiasm, but he has begun suffering from stomach aches and irritable bowel syndrome. The physical symptoms have become so severe that he has sought medical attention, resulting in numerous costly procedures in search of a diagnosis.

But John’s stomach problems are actually a result of anxiety – not an underlying medical condition. He is eagerly trying to work his way up the corporate ladder while maintaining an active social life with family and friends. Meanwhile, a rift with his girlfriend has had a severe effect on his mental and emotional well-being. Therapy would identify the cause of his symptoms, provide an outlet for John to articulate and normalize his experience, and arm him with tools to manage his symptoms. Consultation with a psychiatrist could also prove helpful.

How Businesses Fit In

Employers are in a unique position to provide mental healthcare benefits – and it’s absolutely worth their while. In fact, not providing access to quality behavioral health services may prove costly in the long run. The Center for Prevention and Health Services estimated that mental illness and substance abuse issues cost employers between $79 and $105 billion each year in decreased productivity, missed work, and increased healthcare and disability costs. Moreover, employees miss more work due to mental illness than other chronic health conditions.

On the flip side, research shows that every $1 investment in mental health promotion has a $3 to $5 return on investment. Likewise, 80 percent of employees who received treatment reported improved workplace productivity and satisfaction, according to The Center for Workplace Mental Health reports.

Why Telebehavioral Health?

Even with a robust mental health plan, employees struggle with the same issues that plague the rest of nation: narrow provider networks, access challenges, and the shame that often accompanies mental health problems. Telebehavioral health providers like MeMD can help employers solve those problems – and help employees lead healthy, productive lives at work and at home.

With MeMD, employees can access a wide network of high-quality, licensed behavioral health providers across the country. This means quick and easy access to therapy – along with the convenience of scheduling virtual sessions in the privacy and convenience of their own homes. Our providers are licensed and meet our rigorous credentialing criteria, so business owners know their employees are receiving high-quality, highly effective care.

The MeMD Process:

• Members can log onto MeMD’s platform 24/7 to select their desired appointment date and time.

• They can connect with a therapist in as few as 48 hours from their computer or mobile device. Sessions are 50 minutes.

• In therapy, providers work to identify the root cause of any emotional or behavioral health issue and design an appropriate treatment plan.

• The treatment may include just a few sessions, longer-term counseling, or something in between.

• Unlike most competitive services – virtual or in person – MeMD has built validated measurement and outcome-based care into its model. Members who request a therapy session are prompted to complete the Behavioral Health Screen, a multi-dimensional, comprehensively validated assessment tool. An advanced algorithm ranks the risk factors across 16 domains, providing benchmarks for progress and improvement.

Learn more about MeMD’s telebehavioral health services.

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