Prudential teams with NeuroFlow on mental health app

Prudential Group Insurance is expanding their mental health benefits for employees on disability leave through a partnership with NeuroFlow, a behavioral health platform.

NeuroFlow identifies at-risk employees using data analytics and artificial intelligence. Employees will have access to care coordination services and crisis intervention, as well as self-service tools for psychoeducation, relaxation and coping skills training.

Prudential expanded their care offerings after realizing they needed a better way to encourage employees to manage the anxiety that comes with disability leave. Employees out on disability may have thoughts and anxieties about how much things have changed since they have been out on leave and be concerned that they won’t be able to keep up with the pace of the workplace once they are back.

Read More: Employee mental health is plummeting one year into the pandemic

“There’s such a shortage of mental health professionals in general and so we’re seeing markets and the mental health industry move towards digital applications and telehealth,” says Dr. Kristin Tugman, vice president of health and productivity analytics and consulting practice for Prudential Group Insurance. “We wanted to explore that and see if that is a viable way to help folks gain access to care.”

COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health crisis employees were experiencing even before the pandemic, Tugman says. Her team had been working to raise awareness of mental health within the workplace, through manager training and anti-stigma campaigns.

Employee mental health has been steadily falling since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, employees reported a 48% increase for risk of depression between November and December of 2020, according to the Mental Health Index by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. Additionally, overall employee focus plummeted 62% during that same time — the highest drop since last February.

Read More: Why your employees need integrative wellness benefits

For those taking disability leave, due to injury or an illness diagnosis, those feelings can be even more acute, Tugman says.

“We actually found that there are cognitive barriers or thoughts that folks have the longer they’re out. It can prevent them from returning to work.” she says. “It’s really about how did that person adapt and do they feel like they have the resources that they need to improve and get back to work and perform at the same level as they once did.”

Employees can also feel disconnected from their coworkers the longer they are out, Tugman says. The NeuroFlow app is an additional tool employees can tap into for a sense of connectivity and help them prepare for their future in the workplace.

“The longer someone’s out, the more likely they are to have an increase in anxiety and feel less prepared to return,” she adds. “That’s what we’re trying to combat — that disability mindset where they get to a place where they feel like it’s safer to stay out on disability than it is to risk returning to work.”

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