Regence CEO joins business and community leaders to discuss solutions for employee mental health

By Regence
May 26, 2023
PBJ MH panel

Main image: Oregon Governor Tina Kotek (far left); Regence CEO Jared Short speaking (top right); panelists and moderator on stage (bottom right)

The federal COVID-19 public health emergency just ended in May. However, data shows employee burnout remains high, and the mental health crisis continues to grow. In fact, the U.S Surgeon General just declared loneliness and isolation an epidemic.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Regence partnered with the Portland Business Journal to gather local leaders and discuss the topic of workplace wellness and offer solutions to navigating employee mental health.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek provided opening remarks, sharing how her administration is working to increase access to mental health care services.

“In the two years prior to the pandemic, nearly 1 in 9 Oregon adults reported an unmet need for mental health treatment, that’s the country’s fourth highest rate,” said Kotek. “My job as governor is to be a strong partner with the work that is happening there [in communities], to make sure we’re reducing barriers to care and doing everything we can to support local providers to do the great work that they’re doing.”

The group of panelists included Jared Short, CEO of Regence Health Plans; Gale Castillo President and Co-founder of Canopy; Rob Nosse, State Representative; Dr. Randy Kamphaus, Acting Executive Director of The Ballmer Institute; and Kimberly Sewell, Executive Director of Labor Relations & Human Resources at TriMet.

The panelists discussed a variety of solutions for supporting employee wellbeing from the importance of peer-to-peer programs to help normalize conversations around mental health to improving access to behavioral health care services, particularly for children.

“We have to make sure that we’re ready to catch people at the moment they really need it,” said Short. “One of the things that we’ve done is put our customer service team through Mental Health First Aid.”

You can find a recap of the panelist conversation in The Portland Business Journal or watch a video recap below:


We’re here to help

We can help you find behavioral health care options that fit your needs. Call our customer service team at the number listed on your member ID card to verify which virtual care and traditional behavioral health options are available through your health plan. Or sign in to your account on the web or use the Regence app and click the “Find Care” link to guide you to our Provider search tool pre-set with your network in place. Make sure to set your search in the location where your child is living.

In addition to the wide range of traditional and virtual mental health providers, most Regence members have access to specialized behavioral health care for those seeking help for eating disorders (Equip), obsessive-compulsive disorders (nOCD), and substance use disorders—Boulder CareEleanor Health (Washington only) and Hazelden Betty Ford (Oregon and Washington only). If your employer has an employee assistance program (EAP), you can use the program confidentially and at low or no cost.

Remember 988 – the new National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. When people call, text, or chat 988, they’ll be connected to trained counselors who will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if needed.