Managing Executive Mental-Health and Substance-Abuse Treatment

A new treatment facility for leaders opened last week in Connecticut.
By: | May 18, 2018 • 4 min read
black and grey image of a businessman asleep with alcohol to symbolize executive mental-health and substance-abuse issues

Mental-health and substance-abuse issues impact employees—and, in turn, their employers—at pretty much every level of the organization, including the very top. So, the emergence of new facilities dedicated to addressing the needs of senior executives who are struggling with these issues shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Last week, one more provider joined the ranks of those already specializing in the treatment and support of senior executives suffering from mental-health and substance-abuse issues: The Steward House, a joint venture of Yale New Haven Health, Silver Hill Hospital and Yale Medicine, the clinical arm of the Yale School of Medicine.

Located in New Canaan, Conn., The Steward House is being led by Samuel Ball, director of psychology at Silver Hill Hospital. Ball previously led several programs at the APT Foundation in New Haven, Conn., and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (recently renamed the Center for Addiction) in New York.

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So, what sets the program apart from others out there?  Ball says it’s its heavy emphasis on individual therapy, in addition to group therapy. “The evidence supports the effectiveness of this approach,” he says.

The Steward House—whose name plays off of the fact that its patients are stewards of their organizations—focuses on addressing the well-being needs of a group of individuals who may be extraordinary managers but are oftentimes less adept at “managing their own inner world,” says Ball.

Its goal, he adds, is to build on the patients’ strengths as managers so they can better manage themselves. “We’re stewarding the stewards,” he says.

During their one-month stay, patients are provided individual therapy with clinical psychologists three times per week; multiple weekly sessions with a psychiatrist for medication management; interactive group therapy with a social worker twice a week; and access to 24-hour-on-call psychiatrists. There are also a range of ancillary services that focus on wellness, such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and tai chi.

So long as it doesn’t get in the way of their recovery and it’s something they want to do, patients can have the ability to stay connected with their work via computer, tablet and phone.  (The site also has a business center.) An evaluation is made during their first week at the facility as to whether it makes sense.

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Ball says there are two target groups for the facility: current or former executives; and licensed professionals, such as physicians, dentists and attorneys, who may have significant responsibility for either an organization or a large group of clients.

Of course, it’s too soon to know what  issues The Steward House’s patients will be treated for. Based on other programs out there, Ball estimates that about 50 percent of them will be dealing with substance-abuse problems, 25 percent major depression issues and 25 percent anxiety or personality disorders.

As for the cost, Ball says a 30-day visit to a facility like this runs between $40,000 and $120,000. The Steward House, he says, falls somewhere in the middle, at around $70,000. As you might expect, the fee includes a private room and bath.

Ball estimates that, besides The Steward House, there are nationally about a half-dozen serious players that are focusing on executive mental-health and substance-abuse treatment.

David Shadovitz is editor of HRE. He is also co-chair of the HR Tech Conference and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. He can be reached at [email protected]

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