WELLESLEY, Mass., July 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Sun Life U.S. has announced a unique partnership with AbleTo, a virtual behavioral health therapy and coaching program, to offer mental health support services to Sun Life disability and critical illness members receiving benefits due to a cancer diagnosis. In a focused evaluation of disability claims for members with cancer, Sun Life's Clinical Claims Innovation Lab saw significant need for mental health intervention to address conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. AbleTo's program, which focuses on holistic, personalized mental health care, is designed to help people cope with difficult medical diagnoses.

Sun Life Financial Logo (PRNewsfoto/Sun Life Financial)

"Access to mental and behavioral health services has become a priority for so many across the country, particularly with regard to remote or virtual settings," said Sheila Sokolski, assistant vice president of Life, Absence and Disability products at Sun Life U.S. "By partnering with AbleTo, we can bring our members convenient, confidential access to mental health services from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This program can help our members more effectively manage their cancer diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as maintain mental wellness throughout their medical journey."

When Sun Life members enroll in the eight-week AbleTo program, they get:

  • One-on-one weekly sessions with a licensed AbleTo therapist via phone or video call
  • Additional weekly sessions with an experienced AbleTo behavioral coach
  • Therapists with extensive experience counseling people facing serious health diagnoses
  • Digital tools and activities to use between sessions and after the program ends

"When we see members diagnosed with cancer, we know they are facing challenges in addition to receiving treatment, such as worrying about their families, their ability to return to work or paying additional medical expenses," said Sheila Weiss, RN, assistant vice president, Group Claims and Clinical Services, Sun Life U.S., and head of Sun Life's Clinical Claims Innovation Lab. "It is crucial for those dealing with a condition like cancer to receive behavioral health support, or these issues could impede their ability to cope during treatment and recover afterwards."

Sun Life's Clinical Claims Innovation Lab conducts focused analyses of disability claims for specific conditions, identifying trends and opportunities for intervention – such as communicating with physicians to better understand the member's medical situation, or connecting members to vocational rehabilitation consultants – which can improve the recovery path for the member. The Lab's studies also further educate Sun Life's claims professionals on medical treatment advances that can impact a member's recovery. 

"Medical outcomes can be improved when people can manage their mental wellness at the same time as physical recovery," said Stephen Bewley, chief executive officer of AbleTo. "Through the program, individuals learn to manage anxiety and stress levels, relax, and feel more in control. They can modify negative thoughts and improve their mood, building healthy, actionable, lifelong skills to support their mental health. We've seen graduates of AbleTo's program report improvement in symptoms, with a 98 percent patient satisfaction1 score. We're thankful that Sun Life members will get access to our tailored mental health support needed during a difficult time."

Using the DASS-21 tool, which assesses and measures stress, anxiety and depression, AbleTo tracked participants' symptoms from baseline to program completion, and discovered an average 62 percent reduction in depression, and 56 percent reduction in anxiety.1

AbleTo will be available to eligible Sun Life members receiving short-term disability benefit payments and/or approved for critical illness benefits due to a cancer diagnosis. The program is an extension of their Sun Life benefit. For more information about the Sun Life clinical model, visit www.sunlife.com/disability.

This is the latest development in Sun Life's expanded approach to mental health and wellness, which includes support for primary diagnoses, guidance for employers as they develop mental wellness programs for the workplace, and broadened philanthropic support, particularly for underprivileged communities.

About Sun Life

Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing asset management, wealth, insurance and health solutions to individual and institutional Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2022, Sun Life had total assets under management of C$1.35 trillion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

In the United States, Sun Life is one of the largest group benefits providers, serving more than 55,000 employers in small, medium and large workplaces across the country. Sun Life's broad portfolio of insurance products and services in the U.S. includes disability, absence management, life, dental, vision, voluntary and medical stop-loss. Sun Life and its affiliates in asset management businesses in the U.S. employ approximately 8,000 people. Group insurance policies are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, Mass.), except in New York, where policies are issued by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, Mich.). For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com/us.

About AbleTo

A pioneer in telehealth, AbleTo has revolutionized the way people access quality mental healthcare. Delivering over 2 million patient sessions, AbleTo provides structured, high-quality and high-impact mental healthcare to people, when and where they need help most. The company's dynamic suite of solutions leverage data and analytics to align each person's unique needs with a highly personalized program that offers the right blend of human and digital support. A nationwide network of more than 2,300 trusted providers, skilled in clinically rigorous treatment, delivers this tailored care through a remote platform backed by over a decade of experience. AbleTo's outcomes-focused approach is proven to improve both behavioral and physical health and lower overall medical costs. For more information, visit AbleTo at www.ableto.com and follow AbleTo on LinkedIn and Twitter.

1. AbleTo Book of Business DASS-21 Outcomes, 2021

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SOURCE Sun Life U.S.

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