In Good Mental Health: On-site healthcare clinics bridge the gap to mental healthcare.

Author:Francom, Sarah Ryther

Mental illness. It's a stigmatized condition that all too often is ignored by those suffering and those closest to them--including colleagues and employers. But with one out of every five people experiencing a mental health illness, it's a condition that can have serious consequences, including in the workplace.

"Depression in the workplace costs around $44 billion a year in lost productivity--people with depression lose an average of 27 workdays a year," says Rob Wesemann, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Utah. "But mental health conditions can be managed very successfully. The problem is when the condition is not treated. Cancer untreated will get worse. A mental condition untreated will get worse. Unfortunately, up to 60 percent of people don't seek help."

Having easy access to mental healthcare is one of the key components to ensuring people who need help will get help. Wesemann is an advocate of integrated healthcare, which combines medical and behavioral health in the same facility. "People are much more willing to discuss a medical condition than a mental health condition, but when you co-locate medical and behavior health, they're more likely to seek help because you've gotten rid of some of the barriers to help. It's been very successful."

Wesemann says the same is true for onsite workplace clinics. "Integrating mental health in an onsite clinic decreases barriers to help. It's a good thing for employees and employers."

A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, and that includes mental health. As more employers discover the benefits of having an onsite healthcare clinic, it's also an opportunity to bridge the gap to mental healthcare.

On-the-job care

Donna Milavetz, MD, started OnSite Care after 20 years of practicing internal medicine. She believed the modern healthcare system was broken and that she could do better. She launched Salt Lake-based OnSite Care to bring a different model of healthcare to patients--one that they could access right at work. Her goal was to generate better health outcomes with greater savings for both employers and employees. Working with employers, Milavetz has opened several onsite healthcare clinics in companies throughout Utah.

Though OnSite Care initially focused on physical health, Milavetz quickly realized a need to integrate mental health into the practice. "Mental health is the third-highest diagnosis for all visits seen in our clinics," she says. "Mental health...

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