A year of challenges and resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many. A recent Sun Life survey revealed COVID-19 has negatively impacted our mental health. Nearly 60% of Canadians surveyed reported feeling stressed or anxious because of the pandemic.1

"The pandemic continues to amplify the country's mental health crisis. It highlights the importance of helping Canadians live healthier lives. At Sun Life, we are committed to empowering our employees, Clients and all Canadians in managing their mental health. Our goal is to equip Canadians with virtual mental health tools to help them get the support they need wherever they are in their journey"
- Dave Jones, Senior Vice-President, Group Benefits

In 2020, we focused on new ways to provide additional support during this pandemic. Our solutions can help your employees, no matter where they are on their mental health journey:

  • healthy and at work
  • at work and need support
  • off work and recovering
  • planning for a sustained return to work

To help plan sponsors address workplace mental health, we created a webinar series. While these webinars were in response to COVID-19, the content applies to addressing workplace mental health overall.

Webinar for employees: 

  • Helps employees understand their own mental health risk 
  • Guidance on how to speak to their manager 
  • Identifies support available both on the job and through their job 

Webinar for people leaders: 

  • Identify and support employees at risk for mental health problems
  • Manager responsibilities 
  • The importance of taking action early

Our new mental health toolkit is a guide to building a workplace mental health strategy. Our toolkit takes an organization through a five-step process to building a strategy:

1. Building the foundation

2. Identify opportunities

3. Set priorities and objectives

4. Take action

5. Re-evaluate

This practical guide helps your organization grow and develop a strategy that can deliver meaningful and lasting results.

Making workplace mental health a c-suite business priority

We are urging Canadian organizations to join us in creating mentally healthy workplaces. Read more about our CAMH partnership, announced in a news release on Oct. 5, 2020. 

We have created five self-teaching modules for people leaders. Through this video series, people leaders can gain an understanding of these topics: 

Module 1: Introduction to mental health and disability

Module 2: Managing mental health in the workplace

Module 3: Managing absenteeism

Module 4: Managing difficult behaviour and interpersonal conflict

Module 5: Staying at work and returning to work

Best Doctors is an optional benefit available for Sun Life Extended Health Care (EHC) and Critical Illness (CI) plans.

MHN is a new early intervention tool from Best Doctors. It assists employees who are at-risk but still at work. The aim is to close the gap in accessing care through the public health system. This helps to address mental health problems before they become a disability claim. MHN guides the plan member to the most suitable care for their mental health needs.

Lumino Health Virtual Care, powered by Dialogue, is available to plan members with symptoms related to mental health problems. This includes feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue and insomnia.  

Plan members have access to a mental health specialist who can:

  • Help them through coaching, self-care tools and support on low-risk situations
  • Coordinate a conversation with a doctor about prescription renewals
  • Help connect them with a mental health professional for support 
  • Ensure follow-up from the Dialogue Care Team within 10 days 
  • Help with a second appointment if needed, giving the plan member continuity of care

Please visit the Lumino Health Virtual Care section of our website for more information.

This year, we launched pharmacogenomics as an optional benefit for EHC plans. It's also part of our disability toolkit. Read our Bright Paper for more background on this new option.

Pharmacogenomic testing analyzes a person’s genetic makeup. This analysis determines how they'll respond to a given drug. It reduces or eliminates the standard trial and error method of prescribing drugs. And this helps plan members get the right treatment.

CBT helps people build the skills needed to change negative and anxious thoughts. Online CBT offers an innovative way for plan members to access mental health services. They have the dedicated support of an accredited therapist and a personalized care plan. And because it’s online, the care is accessible when and where they need it. 

We launched online CBT this year as part of our EHC plan.

Independent medical exams assess a plan member’s mental health problems for disability claims.  Completing these assessments through video conferencing is faster and more efficient. This helps ensure plan members get the treatment they need sooner. 

We now offer vIMEs in our disability management toolkit. This helps our case managers better support plan member mental health claims.

We expanded our RightDirectionsTM EAP service to offer value-added benefits without additional costs. After a review of the program, we removed some unused features and added some enhancements:

1. Manager coaching is now available in all tiers. This service provides: 

  • Training on how to spot signs of distress in employees
  • How to help employees get best support from their EAP 

2. Added enhancements for Elite tier (also available as a top-up service for other tiers)

  • Employee education sessions–one free live virtual employee education session each contract year with a variety of available topics
  • Manager training–one onsite coaching session per contract year for all managers. 

3. Dedicated EAP Support

  • If you have our RightDirectionsTM EAP program, you now have a dedicated Morneau Shepell Customer Success Manager. This service change ensures more timely and effective responses. Click here to view the new Sun Life RightDirectionsTM brochure. 

For more information on what we’re doing to help support the mental health needs of your company and your employees, please visit the Mental Health section of our website.