An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The old saying may be trite, but it is also true — especially when it comes to mental health.
In fact, decades of research have shown that the earlier people receive treatment for anxiety or chronic insomnia, the less likely they are to have acute episodes that require a higher level of psychiatric care.
Understanding levels of care
In the context of a physical health condition such as breast cancer, most people understand why Stage 1 is “better” than Stage 4. In Stage 1 of the disease, the cancer hasn’t spread, treatment may be less intensive, and the survival rate is often higher. For those outside of the healthcare industry, levels of care may not be so readily identifiable, so here’s a quick rundown:
Level 1 – Primary care, a visit with your primary care physician
Level 2 – Secondary care, a visit with a specialist
Level 3 – Tertiary care, inpatient care and/or hospitalization
Level 4 – Quaternary care, often experimental and highly specialized care
In terms of a health condition like anxiety or insomnia, Level 1 would mean speaking to your doctor about new symptoms or concerns. Many people don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to getting Level 1 care, which sometimes means they inadvertently skip to Level 3: ending up in the hospital after experiencing a panic attack or falling asleep behind the wheel. As these conditions progress, they often become more debilitating which can cause life-altering issues and require more intensive (and expensive) treatment. When applying the levels of care above to mental health treatment, the care path might look something like this:
- Outpatient – In this least intensive form of treatment, patients typically meet with a therapist or psychiatrist, gradually reducing frequency as symptoms improve and it’s safe to discontinue.
- Intensive outpatient – Patients still come in for treatment multiple days a week, but for fewer hours than in “partial hospitalization” care. These patients may still engage in group and individual therapy, meet with psychiatrists, or try different therapies.
- Partial hospitalization – Also called “day treatment,” this kind of care is usually for patients stepping down from inpatient care who go to treatment multiple days a week for several hours a day.
- Inpatient – Necessary during an emergency situation such as when someone may harm themselves, this type of care consists of mental and physical stabilization including helping people withdraw from drugs or alcohol they may have been using to self medicate. This type of care can take anywhere from three days to weeks, depending on severity.
- Residential – This intensive, month(s)-long treatment provides a supportive environment for someone who is medically stable but needs to build skills needed for long-term recovery.
How to avoid the need for acute care
Given what’s involved with more intensive treatment, it’s easy to understand why preventive measures that address needs before they escalate are preferable. Early intervention is better for the individual as well their family members, friends, employers, and coworkers.
Time away from family, lost income, and expensive therapy are just a few of the factors affecting those struggling with mental health conditions. For businesses, intensive treatment — not to mention fallout from an employee’s struggles leading into that treatment — translates to losses around performance, absenteeism, and high medical costs. This is in addition to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) pressures such as short-term disability or a leave of absence that can result from untreated mental health concerns.
The good news is that an “ounce of prevention” is easy to add to your company’s mental health benefits package in the form of digital therapeutics (DTx). For instance, Sleepio and Daylight are proven interventions for insomnia and anxiety, respectively.
By providing access to these treatments, employers can help their employees address anxiety or insomnia before these conditions escalate. Digital therapeutics are a game changer for busy employees who may struggle with stigma, costs, and time constraints. With Sleepio and Daylight, employees can access care 24/7 on any mobile device, allowing them to engage with treatment at a time and place of their choosing.
Sleepio and Daylight are evidence-based treatments rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is the gold standard treatment recommended by psychologists for both insomnia and anxiety.
Providing your workforce with accessible, affordable, clinical-grade treatments for anxiety and insomnia will bring your benefits package to the next level. By delivering modern treatment solutions, you can show your employees that you’re not just checking the box on their health, but you’re truly invested in them as people.
See whether your employees feel like you’re checking the box on their benefits with our interactive tool.
Sleepio and Daylight are available as an adjunct to usual medical care for insomnia disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, respectively, for adults ages 18 and older, without FDA review under their COVID-19 policy.
DOC-2007 Effective 10/2022
Subscribe today to receive updates from Big Health
daylight, Mental health, SleepioShare article