Sun Life has launched a virtual mental health exam that enables clients to be assessed without leaving their front door.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the company has started a three-month pilot for the Independent Medical Exams process, which aims to help those whose challenges make it difficult to attend in-person appointments.
Recognising that access to support has been notoriously difficult, the IME hopes to provide new, easier and effective ways for plan members and their families to access the care that they need without having to navigate the system alone.
The issue of helping people whose mental health disability made it tough to leave home was particularly important to Sun Life.
Marie-Chantal Côté, VP, market development, group benefits, Sun Life Financial, told LHP: “We were first of all looking to seek to offer another option in in order to help the diagnostic and treatment plan.
“We also thought that it often takes time to have access to a mental health professional in terms of the time it takes – sometimes it takes a three- to nine-month waiting period.
“Finally, we wanted to provide access because we felt some difficulties getting access to care in remote areas.”
Once a plan member submits a disability claim and is identified by their physician as suffering from a mental health condition and requiring further diagnostic and details for their treatment plan, Sun Life will then reach out to partner EQ Care to provide virtual access to mental health care.
It aims to connect with the individual, ensure the technical set up, enable them to see a professional and provide the results all within 30 days of the referral.
Côté added: “[Mental health] is certainly something that is core to our values. We want to help Canadians live healthier lives and mental health is a big factor in that. We are committed to providing our clients with solutions that help them return to work as fast as possible, accelerate their recovery and help them live healthier lives.
“There is still some social stigma and we do think that employers have an opportunity on this issue. That’s why virtual access enables us to support and help Canadians and individuals.”