Women are in desperate need of help and support as they continue to bear the outsized burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, CVS Health and Aetna have launched a variety of resources targeted to women, working mothers and caregivers. Forty-five percent of women told CVS Health they are struggling with their mental health. However, 42% do not know how to navigate mental health support and seek appropriate care.
The programs aim to address the lack of support women have felt during the pandemic. Aetna’s Here 4 U virtual group therapy program will offer separate sessions for women and mothers. These sessions provide a forum for women to share their challenges. The healthcare company has also launched a Women’s Health Mental Resource kit to help women find professional support through their insurance.
“During this difficult year, the result has been profound stress, burnout and anxiety that cannot be ignored,” Cara McNulty, president of behavioral health and EAPs at Aetna, said in a release. “This May, we are standing up for women’s mental health, raising awareness and dedicating resources to women, moms and caregivers to support them in prioritizing their own total well-being.”
Since the start of COVID, 60% of women say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their stress levels, according to the CVS Health survey. Women also said they have not prioritized their own mental health because they are more concerned with caring for others.
These stressors are pushing a quarter of women out of the workforce entirely or leading them to downshift their careers. This can have a widespread negative impact on a woman’s career trajectory and the success of the business as a whole.
“The longer women are out of the workforce, the harder it is to actually get back in,” says Jennifer Reynolds, CEO of Toronto Finance International. “This isn’t just an issue for women. It’s an issue for families and it’s an issue for the government and economies because it drives GDP.”
The CVS programs expand the company’s extensive mental health support resources. In addition to programs targeted specifically to women, CVS and Aetna offer free, 24/7 access to mental health care through their Resources for Living platform. Members can also book telehealth appointments through CVS’s HealthHub, which connect users with a clinical social worker who will accurately assess their symptoms and write them referrals to specialists for additional care.
“Broadening awareness of mental health resources is just the beginning of how we help those who are struggling,” McNulty says. “Greater access to mental health care will bridge the gap for those in need and make mental well-being part of everyone’s preventative care routine.”