- October 3, 2022
- Posted by: James Haggerty
- Category: Outsourcing
Proper access to healthcare and the ability to not only learn about but utilize the healthcare resources available are vital components of our society. Health services for adults, children, and families of all types exist in nearly every area of the United States, and accessing them should come easily to anyone who needs care.
The unfortunate reality is, however, that access to healthcare services—especially behavioral health services like mental health treatment and addiction rehabilitation—isn’t something everyone has in equal measures. Some people face significant roadblocks to treatment, and it’s leading to a widespread disparity in health statistics in the United States. For example, minority groups tend to have less access to these resources and, along with many others, may experience barriers to treatment, like lack of transportation, lack of childcare, limited or no health insurance, and more. Still, others are unaware that resources exist to help them access affordable care.
This is where a behavioral health navigator comes in.
What Is a Behavioral Health Navigator?
A behavioral health navigator is a professional charged with the task of helping individuals not only get the behavioral health treatments they need but also learn about healthcare resources they have access to. Within a business organization, a behavioral health navigator is usually part of an employee assistance program or human resources department. Generally speaking, in this role, navigators direct people to healthcare services they need. They can also work at a healthcare facility itself, serving the general public for the exact same reason.
How do Behavioral Health Navigators Help People?
With their experience in the field and their knowledge of local resources available to the people they serve, a behavioral health navigator can help people understand the healthcare services they need and point them where they need to be in order to get these problems resolved. This way, any issues can be dealt with before the situation gets worse.
Potential services a behavioral health navigator can identify include:
- Psychiatric care
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Support groups
- Psychiatric medication management
- Drug and alcohol detox
- Substance use disorder rehabilitation
- Aftercare treatment
Highlighting available services is not a behavioral health navigator’s only job, however. Perhaps even more important is their ability to help people troubleshoot and solve issues presented by barriers to care. Anyone experiencing difficulty accessing proper care can turn to a behavioral health navigator for help identifying alternative resources, community help, insurance options, and more. Whether these individuals are part of a marginalized group and are in need of specialized treatment or therapy, have low income and don’t believe they can afford care costs, or simply cannot find available behavioral healthcare, a behavioral health navigator can help.
Developing a Safe Action Plan
By working with a behavioral health navigator, people can develop a comprehensive action plan to access the care they need. Better yet, this help comes from a knowledgeable, trustworthy source that will lead them in a safe direction. This safety aspect goes well beyond simply knowing that their health issues are finally being taken seriously. A healthcare navigator can also act as a conduit between all parties involved. With an action plan, the navigator can make the process of seeking behavioral healthcare far less daunting for those who are uncertain about receiving such care. In this way, behavioral health navigators can help ensure vital treatment like addiction rehab for people who may not be willing to traverse healthcare barriers on their own.
Why Should You Hire a Behavioral Healthcare Navigator?
The benefits of increased knowledge of behavioral health resources and enhanced access to healthcare for individuals are likely obvious. However, what might not be so obvious is how your business could benefit from hiring a behavioral healthcare navigator as part of your employee assistance program or human resources department. The fact of the matter is that giving employees access to healthcare treatment is an important way to not only support your employees but also keep your business running smoothly. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that allowing workplace mental health issues to fester does the exact opposite.
How Mental Health Affects the Workplace
People experiencing mental health issues may exhibit abrasive or disruptive behavior at work but are even more likely to decide not to come to work at all. This sickness absence can come both from needing a “mental health day” as well as from stress-related physical ailments. For many, though, sickness absence is not a one-time occurrence. In fact, many people have recently quit their jobs due to mental health issues. If people are experiencing untreated mental health issues and don’t believe their current employer provides them with any benefits or resources to treat them, they are likely to quit in search of other options.
Even if employees don’t decide to leave, there are other problems poor mental health can bring to the workplace. When employees of any business are suffering from untreated mental health concerns, productivity decreases. They may experience difficulty staying focused on work in favor of mental health symptoms or may struggle to perform tasks effectively. In fact, mental health can make even the most everyday activities, like interacting with other employees, extremely difficult.
Why a Behavioral Healthcare Navigator is Essential
It stands to reason that if mental health problems make employees unhappy, unmotivated, and unavailable, then the opposite is also true. Better mental health can result in better work and better rates of production— workplace motivation is directly correlated to happiness. Happy people have more energy to spend and greater enthusiasm about the work they’re doing. This means they can put in more time and produce higher-quality results.
Hiring a behavioral health navigator can help your employees secure access to behavioral healthcare and plenty of other resources in your community. This not only ensures increased employee satisfaction but can also help boost your productivity, quality of work, and your bottom line.
A good business has nothing to lose, productivity-wise, when it comes to ensuring its employees are mentally healthy and able to seek help if needed. What about financially? After all, behavioral healthcare navigators must be hired as a special member of the staff, rather than simply chosen from the current list of employees, due to the requirements of the role. As a result, many employers rely on simply directing employees to seek their own mental health services as needed. However, they quickly find that the costs of not providing this service directly are often much greater.
Without a Behavioral Health Navigator
For example, consider a scenario where an employee is suffering from undiagnosed depression and anxiety and doesn’t know where to turn for help. At this point, the employee has a few possible options. They can continue going to work, even if their happiness and productivity continues to suffer, ultimately costing the employer financially. They can begin avoiding work, especially if they associate their workplace with their struggling mental health, costing the employer in many potential ways, such as paid time off, lost production, and potentially even the cost of hiring another employee. They can engage in a fruitless search for affordable mental healthcare on their own, only to experience barriers to care. Or they can approach an accessible professional already paid for by their human resources department to get some answers.
If these answers aren’t provided by an expert in the field, or worse, exist simply as a list of potential treatment centers, the problem may get worse. Uninformed, vague, outdated, or otherwise inferior advice isn’t helpful to anyone who needs help finding behavioral health services, and it can make the situation more difficult to overcome. In other words, if the employee doesn’t get the help they’re looking for and instead continues to experience poor mental health, your business is at risk for the decrease in productivity and quality mentioned before. Worse, your employee may be at risk for overdose, suicide, and a host of other severe concerns that could present a legal risk for your business.
With a Behavioral Health Navigator
However, if that employee had direct access to behavioral health support services, the situation would likely go differently. They would be able to present their concerns to a trained professional who can help them identify the particular behavioral health services they need. Then, they can determine which of several available resources they should access with the help of someone with the knowledge and experience to back up their advice. With a behavioral health navigator, there is no longer a vague guessing game of possible options. Employees can be pointed in the precise direction that suits their mental health needs best, and they’ll be able to seek the treatment they deserve.
If the cost of hiring a new, qualified staff member still seems off-putting, keep in mind that many behavioral health navigators serve on a contract basis. This means you can outsource this role and avoid having to hire a full time person instead. If hiring the navigator directly isn’t a good fit for your company, hiring a consultant with those same qualifications is a valid compromise.
Hire a Behavioral Healthcare Navigator Today
Hiring a healthcare navigator is a valid way to keep employees healthy and productive. There are essentially no downsides to outsourcing this role. The cost of doing so is outweighed by the benefits for all involved, including the company.
If your company is looking to hire an experienced behavioral health navigator, Apogee can help. Everyone should have equal access to healthcare services and a safe workplace, and your responsibility to your employees includes ensuring your business can help to mitigate both.
We have experience in connecting people with the behavioral health services they need. Let Apogee provide the healthcare consulting services your HR department needs to ensure your employees always have access to the care they need. Contact us today to learn more.
Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional
Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.