Regence and Seattle business leaders shine light on workplace mental health

By Regence
May 24, 2022

Regence BlueShield partnered with the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) during Mental Health Awareness Month in May to sponsor a survey and panel discussion in Seattle about the urgent topic of employee burnout and workplace mental health.

The PSBJ and Regence garnered feedback from more than 100 survey respondents on how the pandemic has impacted workers’ mental health, how the workers are coping with mental health challenges, and what employers are doing to address the well-being of their employees.

Some of the key findings:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, the number of Seattle workers who say they are frequently or constantly experiencing burnout has nearly tripled.
  • Women in Seattle are more likely than men to report being burned out.
  • Finding and keeping good employees has risen to the top of the list of concerns for Seattle employers, followed by the rising cost of doing business and attracting new customers.
  • The pandemic has caused more companies to improve employee health benefits to meet the mental health needs of their employees. Three of 10 Seattle executives say their company has or is in the process of adding or expanding their health plan offerings. 

These survey findings helped inform a panel discussion in Seattle this month that drew 130 people. On the panel were Jared Short, CEO of Regence Health Plans; Michelle McDaniel, CEO of Crisis Connections; Lou McDermott, Deputy Director of the Washington State Health Care Authority; and Ketul Patel, CEO of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health; with PSBJ Publisher Don Baker as moderator. 

From the panelists

The panelists offered expertise on topics such as employee retention, communication, supporting diversity and inclusion, and best practices for leading an organization with compassion and purpose.

The pandemic has impacted and deepened the relationship between employees and employers, the panelists said.

“Any connection point right now with employees is vital,” Ketul Patel said. “The essentialness of employee communications is one of my biggest lessons of the past two years.”

“The leadership team (of organizations should) be transparent, accessible and also vulnerable,” Michelle McDaniel said. “That resonates with employees and it makes us human. We’re all working together on these solutions.”

Employers need to train their supervisors on how to recognize behavioral health needs among their employees, Lou McDermott said. If a supervisor sees an employee facing challenges, “You have to do something, you have to say something. You have to try to engage that conversation.”

Employees are more satisfied when they are aligned with the company culture, Jared Short said.

“If you are going to work really hard to attract and retain talent, then you have to help people connect to their work,” Jared Short said. “As employers, we have to think about who are we serving and what are we doing and why. And then over and over again, help people connect to it.”

Mental health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.

Watch the full panel discussion below: