How Genetic Testing Can Help Treat Employee Mental Health Issues | AdvantagesPRO

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The United States Department of Health and Human Services He says that our country is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis. As a result, today more than ever is the time to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. In fact, 1 in 4 people in the United States are expected to experience a mental health crisis at least once in their lifetime.

In the workplace, an employee dealing with a mental health condition is more likely to be unintentionally less productive and efficient. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employee performance declines in more than a third of employees who deal with a mental health issue. As a result, productivity losses in the workplace can be staggering. For example, depression alone can cost up to $50 billion a year in lost productivity.

Mental Health Medications: Trial and Error

Mental health treatment often involves a combination of therapy and medication, but finding the right medication and dosage for an individual can be a trial and error approach and can become a long and arduous process.

Pharmacogenomics, genetic testing that seeks to identify genetic markers for understanding how individual patients metabolize medicine, can pinpoint why some people develop side effects to mental health drugs while others don’t. In fact, studies have shown that 50% of all medications are ineffective or minimally effective almost entirely due to individual genetic variation.

By understanding how an individual responds to various medications to treat mental health problems, pharmacogenomics can play a significant role in finding the right medication, reducing trial and error and essentially improving mental health outcomes.

As an employer, why use pharmacogenomics?

Employers agree that pharmacogenomics testing is highly sought after, especially for those who have employees who suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.

While pharmacogenomics can be expensive, adverse drug reactions are also expensive. In the United States, adverse drug reactions cause more than 1.3 million emergency department visits and more than 350,000 hospitalizations annually. All these aspects cause an increase in healthcare costs for individuals and their employers.

An employer can possibly control costs when offering pharmacogenomics testing by designing a benefits plan that provides testing to high-risk individuals. It can essentially help reduce healthcare costs and positively impact corporate bottom line.

How do pharmacogenomics tests work?

The test is conducted with a basic cheek swab to test over 300 drugs to determine how genetic variations affect response to specific drugs. We have seen success in many conditions, but especially in relation to medications used to treat mental health. We’ve also seen optimal benefits when a pharmacist interprets the results.

Pharmacogenomics has the potential to transform healthcare

Collectively, pharmacogenomics testing has the potential to revolutionize the way mental health drugs are prescribed, making them safer and more effective for individual patients. The information gleaned from a test can be used to tailor mental health treatment regimens to individual patients, reducing the risk of trial-and-error prescribing and improving outcomes.

For a person suffering from a mental health condition, pharmacogenomics can provide information so that the patient can be treated with the right medication right from the start of treatment.

The positive impacts for the employer and the patient are numerous. This includes more focused work days, fewer doctor’s appointments, and fewer mental health issues, for example, all of which translate into happier and healthier employees. It also reduces employer and health care costs.

Related: Shifting from reactive to proactive mental health in the workplace

Pharmacogenomics is a rapidly growing and evolving field that is increasing access and reducing costs for employers. It’s an exciting area of ​​research, especially in mental health treatment. It has the potential to transform healthcare.

Dr. Jessica LeaPharm D, is the founder and CEO of Tria Salutea comprehensive healthcare service offered through self-insured employers for people with chronic conditions.

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