A major gap in most employee benefits plans is a lack of teen-focused mental health support. Unsurprisingly, adolescents today experience higher than average rates of mental health concerns (exacerbated by virtual learning, lockdowns, and social media).
While parents often play an integral role in supporting teens through their mental health journey, they frequently lack access to targeted support. What their parents need is a benefit solution that provides their kids with a safe space to access mental health resources and services. These services allow teens to build coping skills, develop healthy habits and ultimately thrive through their teen years into adulthood.
In recent years, employers have stepped up to do more for employee mental health care by investing in better and more effective solutions. Unfortunately, specialized mental health and well-being support for the entire family is still absent all too often.
Mental health can have a ripple effect within families. Frequently, it creates stress, uncertainty and tension. It can also change how people live their lives. While family members are usually affected in different ways, it can lead to a range of emotions including guilt, fear or sadness. These emotions have an undeniable impact on the workplace, which is why mental health care must be comprehensive to be effective. Employers should offer a range of options to help tailor treatment and support inclusion to all individuals at every life stage.
Adolescents Are At High Risk For Mental Health Concerns
The teen years are an exceptionally vulnerable period for adolescents. Teens often face a wide range of difficult experiences, stressful life milestones, mental health, and addiction concerns. Examples include parents’ divorce, anxiety, substance abuse, school conflicts, stress around university/college applications, emotional regulation, body image issues, perfectionism, identity formation, sexuality, gender issues, bullying and unhealthy relationships with social media. In addition to that, researchers have found that nearly 15 percent of kids from age 12 to 15 years old are diagnosed with a mental health issue annually.
After the past two and half years of the pandemic, teen mental health has largely deteriorated. A 2021 survey conducted by the Toronto District School Board confirmed this after comparing results from its 2017 survey. The study found that kids from grades six to twelve reported feeling lonelier and less happy than previously. In addition, 60% of respondents reported feeling stressed often or all of the time.
The Impact Of Teen-Focused Mental Health On The Whole Family
When problems come up, teens typically turn to their friends or family members for support and comfort. This is an important part of their support structure. But, they also need a safe space to talk to a registered, licensed therapist and/or to access evidence-based resources for expert advice and guidance. If mental health concerns are left unaddressed (e.g. self-confidence or self-esteem), teens may be at a higher risk for substance abuse and academic failure. Learning how to cope and take on challenges can increase self-esteem, helping them to better navigate current and future issues.
These challenges at home undoubtedly impact a parents’ (i.e. employees) ability to perform, problem solve, innovate and engage in the workplace. Employers need to deliver a benefits solution that includes easy, confidential access to teen-focused mental health care. The solution needs to be designed for teens in a way that makes them feel comfortable interacting with targeted resources and professionals who can support them throughout their adolescent years.
Implementing Mental Health Benefits Solutions For The Whole Family
As you review your employee benefits solution, closely consider how it meets the needs of your employees and their family members:
- Does it give them access to specialized mental health care for every life stage?
- Is it delivered in an age-friendly way that will promote adoption and engagement?
- Does it meet the need for self-guided preventative care (meditation tracks, mood tracking) subclinical care (coaching, webinars) and clinical care (therapy, iCBT programs)?
- Does it measure progress through evidenced based psychological tools so the care plan can be adjusted as needed?
As part of the iHealthOX comprehensive benefits solution, Charlie Wellbeing provides kids and teens with a safe and secure place to receive mental health care. These services include:
- Care planning and navigation
- Clinically-validated assessments (e.g. GAD-7 for anxiety, PHQ-15 for multiple mental health issues)
- Mental health resources (e.g. iCBT programs)
- Mental wellbeing resources (e.g.meditation tracks, mood tracking, educational articles)
- One-on-one coaching (delivered by masters-level clinicians)
- Licensed therapy
Maiuolo, M., Deane, F. P., & Ciarrochi, J. (2019). Parental authoritativeness, social support and help-seeking for mental health problems in adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(6), 1056–1067. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-00994-4
Health Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Youth. City of Toronto. March 30, 2022.