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Mental health issues in Latin America: What employers can do to help

Mental health is an integral component of health – it is a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and can make contributions to their community. With that said, a study reveals that only a minority of those suffering from mental health issues in Latin America receive adequate care.

In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we will explore the mental health situation in the region, as well as the consequences for individuals and communities. What’s more, we will look at how employers in the region can help alleviate the situation by supporting employees and offering mental health benefits.

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Mental health situation

In Latin America, mental health issues account for almost 25% of the total disease burden, with 5% of the adult population in the region suffering from depression. From this 5%, most people neither seek nor receive treatment. According to a study, there are a number of consequences if individuals do not receive adequate healthcare for mental health issues, such as:

  • Poor educational attainment
  • Reduced motivation to work
  • The tendency to be unproductive
  • Impairment in personal function
  • Lower income attainment

Role of employers in alleviating the mental health of employees

Due to the fact that mental health issues can affect work outcomes, employers in Latin America should play an active role in alleviating the mental health of employees. In fact, mental health coverage is offered more widely in Latin America compared to other regions, regardless of whether group plans are for less than 50, up to 500, or more than 500 employees.

Did you know that over 84% of providers in the region offer mental health coverage? That being said, there are differences between individual countries. For example, mental health treatments in Brazil are part of the mandatory coverage. On the other hand, mental health in Mexico is not covered under private major medical expenses.

Whether you decide to offer corporate wellness programs and mental health coverage, or simply adopt an empathetic and understanding approach, here are some tips for you:

1. Be approachable and available

You do not want your employees to suffer in silence. As such, be approachable and available so they feel comfortable to speak to you about their issues and concerns. In addition to this, provide them with clear channels of communication. This will also ensure that you are informed earlier on, where interventions can be made and are more likely to work.

2. Recognize what mental health issues look like and be proactive in spotting them

For those employees that are not vocal about their sufferings, you should be proactive in spotting the symptoms of mental health issues. Are any of your employees struggling to come to work on time or taking too many sick leaves? Do you notice a decline in productivity or performance? Once you have identified the issue, you can offer employees the necessary support.

3. Implement corporate wellness programs and communicate them to employees

Corporate wellness programs are an excellent preventative approach to mental health. These programs are quite broad and incorporate various elements, which you are able to choose from depending on your employees’ needs and your budget. Remember to communicate wellness program goals and objectives to employees to ensure high utilization.

Some programs include:

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPS): Allows employees to access support if/when they are suffering from mental health issues.
  • Healthy eating programs: Allows employees to snack healthily, which boosts their immune system, gives them strength, and substantially improves their mental health.
  • Mindfulness sessions: Allows employees to take a much-needed break from work to lower stress and increase relaxation
  • Flexible working times: Allows employees to lower stress by better managing their work and personal commitments.
  • And more. 

4. Offer corporate health insurance plans

Wondering how to engage your employees during the pandemic? In light of the novel coronavirus, employees are going to be more anxious about health, so knowing that they are covered via health insurance goes a long way in assuring their mental health. What’s more, ensure the plan also offers mental health coverage due to the psychological impact of lockdowns and social distancing.

Pacific Prime Latin America can help you design and implement mental health benefits

If you are looking to design and implement mental health benefits, look no further than health insurance broker and employee benefits specialist Pacific Prime Latin America. We have recently published our inaugural Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2020, where we delve into mental health benefits and provide tips to implement them.

In addition to the in-depth report, you can also reach out to us for personalized and impartial advice. We help companies of all sizes and industries design and implement tailored solutions. Whether you are looking for corporate health insurance or corporate wellness programs, get in touch with us to learn more!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Latin America
Suphanida is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, an award-winning global health insurance and employee benefits specialist.

With over 5 years of experience in the field, Suphanida spends the majority of her day synthesizing complex pieces of insurance-related information and translating this into easy-to-understand, engaging, and effective content across a variety of media such as articles, infographics, whitepapers, videos, and more.

Suphanida is also responsible for planning and publishing three whitepapers released annually by Pacific Prime: The State of Health Insurance Report, The Cost of Health Insurance Report, and The Global Employee Benefits Trends Report. Additionally, she handles the LinkedIn profiles of Pacific Prime’s Founder and CEO, as well as Global HR Lead.

Suphanida’s strengths lie in her strong research and analytical skills, which she has gained from her BA in Politics from the University of Warwick and Erasmus Mundus Joint MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City, University of London.

Being of Thai-Indian origin and having lived, studied, and worked in Thailand, the UK, and Denmark, Suphanida also has a unique, multicultural perspective that helps her understand the struggles of expats and globetrotters.

Outside of work, she enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.
Suphanida Thakral