Mental health coverage is important to everyone. However, those from diverse communities experience significant mental health challenges, including more persistent and severe symptoms:
- Suicide rates are up to 9x higher for Indigenous people in Canada2
- Members of Black communities are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the rest of the population.3
- Members of Black, Asian, and Latin communities receive mental health treatment significantly less than those not belonging to a diverse community.4
- Members of the LGBTQ2+ communities are twice as likely to experience a mental illness. They’re also almost 4x as likely to experience serious mental illness. And twice as likely to have substance use disorders, compared to adults belonging to sexual majority.5
Several factors contribute to this:6, 7, 8.
- systemic racism and discrimination
- cultural stigma
- barriers to care, and
- a lack of access to mental health practitioners who reflect their communities, share similar lived experiences, and can provide culturally relevant care.
Providing access to culturally appropriate mental health support to those from diverse communities is critically important. Review your contract to see what type of mental health providers are eligible under the paramedical benefit. Opening it up to wider range of provider types will improve opportunity to find a culturally relevant provider. Consider adding providers such as psychotherapists and clinical counsellors. It’ll also reduce barriers in accessing care.
Ensuring your plan has adequate mental health coverage is also critical to the health of your diverse plan members. Review your current maximums. The Canadian Psychological Association recommends providing a maximum of $3,500 to $4,000 per individual per year for mental health care. If your mental health maximum is combined with other paramedical providers, consider separating them. If your claims utilization data shows your plan members aren’t making use of these benefits, consider creating a mental health strategy or modifying your communication approach.
Sun Life’s Mental Health Coach offers organizations an innovative and personalized mental health care solution. It focuses on removing barriers to care (cost, access, stigma). It’s tailored to plan member’s diverse needs and preferences. This includes finding culturally relevant care, practitioners of a specific gender, cultural or ethnic background or a member of the LGBTQ2+ community and virtual or in-person practitioners.