EAP NewsBrief
Jan. 27, 2015

Workplace stress responsible for up to $190 billion in annual US heath care costs
"We have this body of research that shows workplace stress is very bad for health, and we have this other information that says our health costs are way above that of other countries," says Joel Goh of the Harvard Business School. "But traditionally in the United States we have not placed a lot of emphasis on the role of workplace stress in the high cost of health care." Goh points out, "Health care programs are no good if your guy is so stressed that he can't take advantage of them." Now a new paper explores the relationship between workplace stressors and health costs in the U.S.More

EAPA CEO participates in White House event
Employee Assistance Professionals Association
Until late last year, substance abuse and recovery had never been the focus of a meeting at the White House. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, these topics now have a significantly higher profile in both the public and private sectors. Accordingly, last week, for the second time in the last four months, substance abuse and recovery were highlighted at a special White House meeting. The meeting on Jan. 21, "Substance Use Disorders Today: Access, Recovery, and the ACA," brought together the nation's leading experts in the fields of substance use disorders and mental health treatment. As with the first meeting in September, EAPA CEO, Dr. John Maynard, was invited to participate and to represent EAPA at the meeting. Discussion included exploring the impact of Parity and the ACA on expanding coverage and access to behavioral health and addiction recovery services.More

The promise and limits of 'mental health first aid'
The Boston Globe
Since the 19th century, everyone from wartime ambulance drivers to baby sitters have been trained to handle scenarios including wounds, choking incidents and heart attacks. It's not the same as being a doctor, but it's a big help. In just the last few years, experts have begun arguing that we need a program like this for mental health emergencies, too.More

Chronic pain not only hurts, it also causes isolation and depression — but there's hope
The Washington Post
Chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke combined. It is frequently accompanied by depression, which can include fatigue, anxiety and changes in mood, appetite and sleep. Sufferers have some of the lowest reported quality-of-life levels among people with major illnesses. Pain combined with depression can hold sufferers back from engaging in life, which may lead to damaged relationships and loss of employment.More

Mental health parity guide addresses ACA regulations
Employee Benefit News
The American Psychiatric Foundation and its Partnership for Workplace Mental Health recently released an updated version of the Employer Guide for Compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The publication provides employers a concise guide to the parity law, its final regulations and how it is affected by the Affordable Care Act.More

Moving beyond wellness ROI toward employment-based cultures of health: Part I
Health Affairs
With their recent post declaring that employment-based wellness initiatives "increase rather than decrease employer spending on health care with no net health benefit," Al Lewis and coauthors are continuing to exert a clarifying presence in a field with a history of unsubstantiated claims and suspect methods. This conclusion is not supported by the work with which we and others have been associated and is thus not one with which we agree. Nevertheless, Lewis et al. are to be acknowledged for fueling the need for a sharper focus on the core challenge at hand for employers: how best to improve the value of their health care investment — that is, how to manage health care costs while improving employee health and productivity — in ways that are sustainable.More

Despite a crackdown, use of illegal drugs in China continues unabated
The New York Times
Despite the crowds and the risk of arrest, the African man standing outside an Adidas outlet here one recent wintry evening was brazen in his pitch. "Hey man, you want to smoke something?" he asked a passer-by, before offering his wares: cocaine, ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine, all highly illegal in China. The man was but one of several drug dealers who are a fixture in Sanlitun, one of Beijing's diplomatic districts, just down the block from a police station. Their presence would seem to defy the Chinese government's ambitious claims of a six-month crackdown on drugs that is underway in 108 cities.More

Would more psychiatric asylums solve the mental health crisis in America?
For many, the phrase "psychiatric asylum" conjures up haunting and disturbing images: lobotomy procedures, drugged and restrained patients, the creepy facility in the movie "Shutter Island," the cruel Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." But that image may be outdated. In a provocative new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, bioethicists at the University of Pennsylvania outline the crisis of mental health care in the United States, and propose a solution: Rehabilitate the ill-reputed institution of the psychiatric asylum.More

Typical American smokers burn up at least $1 million during their lifetimes
American smokers spend at least $1 million dollars on cigarette-related expenditures over their lifetimes, according to a state-by-state analysis done by the financial consultancy company WalletHub. The most expensive state for smokers is Alaska, where the habit costs over $2 million dollars on average. For a bargain, move to South Carolina, but that still comes in at nearly $1.1 million.More

United Nations: Ukrainian drug addicts dying due to treatment ban
The Guardian
As many as 100 drug users in Crimea may have died since the peninsula was annexed by Russia, according to a top United Nations official, due to fact that the "substitution therapy" they were receiving from Ukrainian authorities being illegal under Russian law. Of 800 Crimean users who were on programs using methadone or Buprenorphine, experts believe at least 10 percent have died, according to Michel Kazatchkine, the UN's special envoy for HIV/Aids in the region. Reliable data from Russian authorities is hard to come by, but local rights activists believe the 10 percent figure is a conservative estimate. The deaths are "mostly overdoses or suicide" said Kazatchkine.More