Accommodations Exist for Mental Health and Substance Abuse through the Workplace Possibilities Program

Sep 14, 2022, 08:35 AM

The following article applies to actively employed members of MOSERS who are covered under the MOSERS-provided long-term disability (LTD) program through The Standard Insurance Company. University employees and retirees do not have LTD coverage through MOSERS. This article was written by Daniel Jolivet, Workplace Possibilities Practice Consultant at The Standard. 

Although mental health and substance use disorders are among the most common medical conditions, many people don’t realize that help is available. That’s unfortunate because these are treatable conditions and recovery is the expected outcome. There are a wide range of effective treatments available, and there are accommodations that can help people remain productive on the job even when they’re coping with these disorders.

One potential solution that’s available to MOSERS members is the stay-at-work and return-to-work services through the Workplace Possibilities program offered under the Group Long-Term Disability Insurance Policy from The Standard (otherwise known as The Policy). These services can be used by eligible members under the Policy who have been diagnosed with a medical condition for which they are currently in treatment with an appropriate provider.[1]

 

The Workplace Possibilities program includes a variety of services designed to help allow employees to remain on the job or, if they go out on disability leave, return to work effectively despite limitations arising from their medical conditions. The Workplace Possibilities Consultant, a certified and experienced disability professional, works directly with every person eligible for the program, completing an assessment and developing an individualized plan to help them avoid the need for a disability leave or return to work as soon as medically feasible (as determined by their treating provider). These services are part of your Policy and are offered at no additional cost to the employee.

Stay-at-work services for physical conditions might include adaptive equipment to help employees overcome physical barriers to their work, but that’s less common for workers dealing with mental health or substance use conditions. With those conditions, the focus is generally on education, support, and, with written authorization from the employee, collaboration between the employee, their supervisor, and their treating providers.

For example, a Tech Support Professional was referred by his supervisor for stay-at-work services from the Workplace Possibilities program after he disclosed that he was struggling with anxiety and depression.[2] The Workplace Possibilities Consultant discussed the issues he was having and explored how they were affecting his work performance. She asked him about his current support system and then offered information about community resources he could access for more support, such as groups through the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) and Mental Health America (MHA). In addition, she made concrete suggestions about ways to maintain healthy and professional relationships at work. After working together for 10 weeks, the case was closed, and the employee remained on the job with no work problems reported. He was promoted to a new role and expressed his appreciation to the consultant, writing in an email to her, “Thank you for sharing this information (about local support groups) with me!”

Another employee, an Office Support Specialist, was referred to the Workplace Possibilities program after she completed a disability leave for substance abuse treatment. She had suffered a back injury on the job for which she received worker’s compensation, but then she began misusing her pain medication and was admitted to a hospital for treatment. When she first met with the consultant, she disclosed that she was also struggling with feelings of depression and had recently been diagnosed with diabetes. She said she had trouble concentrating and difficulty following through on her work tasks. The consultant encouraged her to follow up with her treatment providers, and she started on insulin to better manage her diabetes along with antidepressant medication. After obtaining the employee’s consent to do so, the consultant also met with her and her manager together to discuss the limitations and restrictions that were causing her difficulty with her job tasks, and her manager agreed to reassign her to a role with less complex tasks. When the Consultant closed her case after 11 weeks, the employee remained on the job, was managing her medications appropriately, and had remained off the prescription pain medication she had previously misused.

These aren’t isolated cases: 98% of employees referred to the stay-at-work services through the Workplace Possibilities program agree to participate and 95% of participants successfully stay on the job.[3] Further, more than 96% of people with a successful stay-at-work case had not filed a subsequent claim with The Standard two years later. [4]

If you’re struggling with mental health or substance use issues, look into the Workplace Possibilities program to see if it might work for you. Your MOSERS benefit representative is a resource for more information.

For more information, visit our Workplace Possibilities website and check out The Standard’s Behavioral Health Resource Center.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for support from the  Crisis Text Line. The National Helpline for alcohol and drug abuse is at 1-800-662-4357. All three are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter, and subscribe to The Standard’s Workplace Possibilities blog.

This piece is not intended as medical or legal advice, nor does Standard Insurance Company offer medical or legal advice. Always speak with your medical provider if you have medical questions. If you have legal questions, consult with an attorney.

Article by Daniel Jolivet

Workplace Possibilities Practice Consultant at The Standard


[1] Your policy is subject to limitations and restrictions.  Please refer to your Certificate of Coverage for more information. 

[2] Identifying information about the employees described in this article has been changed to preserve their privacy. Further, these examples are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not necessarily representative of an expected outcome.

[3] Combined insured and self-insured results between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2021, based on internal data developed by The Standard Insurance Company.

[4] Combined insured and self-insured results for cases closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2016, and claims submitted between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2018, based on internal data developed by The Standard Insurance Company.

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