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CSR through Health Promotion Business

CSR through Health Promotion Business

Yuji Hiroyama
Chief of EAP section of
Health Promotion Department
General Manager of
Medical First Department
Tokio Marine & Nichido Medical Service

Since its foundation in 1987, Tokio Marine & Nichido Medical Service Co., Ltd. ("TMS") has been engaged in total healthcare consulting business, where doctors and healthcare professionals with broad experience and expertise provide office workers with medical and health promotion support.

One of the TMS's key programs as health promotion service is "Employee Assistance Program ("EAP")," in which a team of medical specialists mostly consisting of psychiatrists (plus clinical psychotherapist and consultants) supports companies' (organizations') mental health management system and also provides employees of those companies with mental healthcare support.

In the interview this time, we have Mr. Yuji Hiroyama, M.D. from TMS, General Manager of Medical First Department and Chief of EAP section of Health Promotion Department, to ask the Company's initiatives on EAP.

Q Your Company is now involved in EAP from the perspective of mental health management. Could you tell us why it launched such a health promotion business?

As a mental health problem of "depression" has become more serious in Japan, the number of depressed patients rose to 920,000 as of the year 2005 and we saw an 11th consecutive year with over 30,000 suicides. (32,249 people in 2008)

"We would like to prevent suicide by those who suffer from depression, which is recognized as a social problem, and also to help employees enjoy their good health by supporting their companies' mental health management system through our advanced EAP." --- With this strong aspiration, TMS launched mental health business as a joint venture with Advantage Risk Management Co., Ltd.

In the past, EAP used to be recognized just as part of welfare packages for employees. With various changes in labor environment, however, it is currently required to extend the scope of EAP to the entire company (organization), not limited to providing support to employees.

Mental health problems are more highly complicated and developed these days. It is important that professionals such as doctors and clinical psychotherapists tackle those problems with a specialist perspective. TMS has many those medical professionals. They work with personnel consultants to support mental health management of companies (organizations).

Q Could you be more specific about EAP?

Let me take your question by explaining a flow of EAP. As a first step, employees have self-checking on their stress levels through the Internet. Based on the checking results, a team of professionals such as psychiatrists, clinical psychotherapists and consultants offers comprehensive support which includes raising awareness of people who are not conscious of their stress, taking care of patients on administrative leave, supporting them to return to work and preventing recurrence of their mental health problems. They can also receive e-mail, phone or face-to-face counseling as well as information about affiliated medical institutions and counseling agencies in Japan.

Not only supporting employees through EAP, we also provide companies (organizations) with support on their mental health management system.

Q What kind of worries do many people have?

It varies from person to person, ranging from issues of relationships at work to marital, parenting, and nursing care problems. As a reliable advisor for people with those worries, we work on helping their mental health get better as much as possible by listening carefully to them, identifying root causes of problems and looking for possible solutions together with them. Many people ask for our counseling everyday. It is very important for us to sincerely respond to each of them with a strong desire to "Be of service to others." Some problems are considerably serious, and we strive to help people with those problems, in some cases, cooperating with their families and persons in charge at their companies.

Q How much does your EAP show growth?

At present, there are over 20,000 customers of our EAP and we receive a lot of mental health-related problems from them, regardless of age, sex, business and occupation. Our EAP assists the increasing number of people with more various types of advices not only on early detection of mental disorder and early response to it, but also on how to avoid critical situation and how to respond to the situation in the event of an accident. We believe the favorable effects of our EAP is spreading and deepening steadily.

However, there are many companies and organizations that did not have willingness to embark on mental health measures until only recently. Reasons may vary depending on individual companies, but we are committed to providing services that are more accessible to people so that a lot more people can use our EAP program.

Q What do you feel or learn through this business?

Protecting people's lives and health are very important as an initiative to contribute to the development of society. Although there is a limit to the capacity of individual doctors and clinical psychotherapists, I think it is of great significance to provide support to a far greater number of people by utilizing their expertise through our business activities.

I learned through this business that more people than I expected need mental support. Perhaps there are still many people who can not receive such support although they ask for help. I think it is an ideal society where anyone can have a medical checkup on a regular basis and receive support and care as necessary. I hope our business activities would contribute to the realization of such an ideal society.