At Vera Whole Health, we understand that mental health plays an important role in overall health outcomes. That’s why we built our advanced primary care (APC) model with a focus on whole person care, including mental, social, and physical health.
The mental health of our employees is also a key priority. Working in the healthcare industry is challenging under normal circumstances, but the ongoing pandemic has increased the level of pressure on healthcare professionals. A survey conducted by Mental Health America found that:
- 93% of healthcare workers reported feeling stressed
- 86% experienced anxiety
- 76% dealt with exhaustion and burnout
The good news is that there are concrete things healthcare organizations can do to reduce employee stress, anxiety, and burnout.
At Vera, we are committed to leading the way! Our APC model, which features longer appointment times, a lower volume of daily appointments, and an empathetic, collaborative approach, has created an environment where care teams are fundamentally under less stress and pressure. However, we’re always looking for additional ways to support the mental health and well-being of our employees.
“It’s essential, if our employees are to live healthy, meaningful lives, that we prioritize their mental health. This allows them to provide high-quality care to the people who turn to us for support.” — Ashley Smith Carson, Chief People Officer, Vera Whole Health
Read on to learn about the practical strategies, initiatives, and resources we’re putting into action right now.
The Vera Whole Health Council
Starting in August 2020, the Vera Whole Health Council prioritizes the physical, emotional, and social well-being of Vera employees. Comprised of people from across the organization, the council uses fun and engaging programs to create an environment of empathy, empowerment, appreciation, and support. Council members also:
- Put together innovative events and resources
- Make recommendations to Vera leadership
- Provide feedback in enterprise projects on behalf of employee health and well-being
The Vera Whole Health Council has a number of exciting current and upcoming initiatives.
Building resilience in all employees
Monthly all-staff meetings are concluded with a “Rise to Resiliency” moment. This moment consists of a guided exercise, led by a Whole Health Council member, that focuses on topics useful for building resilience. These topics have included: self-compassion, self-awareness, laughter, breathwork, and more.
The council is also currently developing a Resiliency Deck, which will provide written exercises to support Vera employees in need of a mental reset. An online version is launching soon, aligned with a company-wide initiative focusing on mental health.
Exercising the self-compassion muscle
The Whole Health Council also recently launched a new program called 5 Days of Self-Compassion. After signing up for the program, employees received daily emails with exercises to help them increase their self-compassion. The event also allowed employees to:
- Complete self-compassion assessments
- Practice gratitude
- Increase their awareness of critical self-talk
- Explore methods of working through difficult emotions
- Experiment with a somatic, self-compassion exercise
An associated, online forum provided an environment where event participants could share their learnings and experiences.
Impactful updates to benefits
Vera also recently made benefits changes to offer an even greater level of support for employee well-being and mental health. These changes include:
- Visits with a licensed mental health provider: Vera increased the number of available Employee Assistance Program (EAP) visits from 3 to 5
- Expanded coverage to medical plans: Plans now allow for marital and family counseling
- TalkSpace memberships: Memberships include 2 live video sessions per month and unlimited messaging therapy at no cost to employees
- Increased Health Savings Account (HSA) employer contributions: Contributions are now up to $1,000 annually
- A new Wellness Time Off policy: The new policy supports employees with additional time off for sick/safe leave, COVID-related issues, and mental health days
- An additional floating holiday: This additional day creates a more inclusive environment for religious/cultural celebrations, flexibility to celebrate birthdays, or an opportunity to volunteer within the community
It’s time for a change in the healthcare industry
At Vera, we’re improving health outcomes while reducing the ever-rising cost of healthcare. Our employees are the backbone of this important work. That’s why we’re so dedicated to creating innovative strategies and offering unique resources to support their mental health and well-being.
After all, they’re at the forefront of our health revolution, revealing what’s truly possible with their hard work, empathetic approach, experience, and collaborative spirits.