Green Shield Canada (GSC) has announced it is launching an online preventative mental health program this week, which focuses on mindfulness. GSC says this initiative is an industry first.
The program, available free to all GSC plan members, includes six mindfulness sessions, which aim to help people better manage stress, anxiety, chronic pain and depression. Each session contains audio and video components, as well as on-screen education materials and a reflection workbook.
Anti-depressants over prescribed
The program evolved from trends in GSC’s own data, which revealed clients spent more on anti-depressants than any other drug. In 2016, GSC spent a total of $45 million on anti-depressants.
The company says that it is concerned by a trend of reliance on anti-depressants as a predominant first-line mental health therapy. “While there is strong evidence of the effectiveness of anti-depressant medication for severe depression, GSC drug claims data displays both the widespread practice of over-prescribing them for patients with less severe illnesses, and the subsequent poor adherence to these drug therapies by patients.”
80 per cent discontinue use
The company adds that at any one time, 13 per cent of its two million members are taking anti-depressants and that “at least 80 per cent either discontinued their treatment or were put on dosages too low to be anything more than a placebo.”
GSC says cognitive therapy and mindfulness therapy have been shown to be equally effective as anti-depressant medications in both treating and preventing relapse of recurrent depression.