How VCA Animal Hospitals offers zero-barriers mental health care with Lyra
Founded in 1986, VCA Animal Hospitals was the first organization of its kind to create a nationwide network of veterinary hospitals under a single entity. Prioritizing world-class care at a local level, VCA now operates more than 1,000 animal hospitals across the U.S.
At the heart of VCA is a culture of care and compassion—care for its furry patients and its 30,000 employees (referred to as associates). VCA prides itself on “feeling just like home,” with each hospital operating as a family; this family feel is a clear driving force behind VCA’s benefits philosophy.
In a survey of 11,000 veterinarians across the country, researchers found that 9 percent of participants were struggling with high levels of psychological distress; and 31 percent had experienced a depressive episode at some stage in their careers. When it came to helping associates address their mental health needs, VCA wanted to do more to expand on its legacy employee assistance program (EAP) which offered limited mental health support that was challenging to access.
“When we started to envision a new way of providing access to mental health resources, we talked to Associates across the country and they told us that it often was difficult to find a provider in their area that could help them. If they did find someone, it might take a couple of months to see them, if at all,” said Johanna Baldwin, associate well-being director at VCA Animal Hospitals. “Legacy systems created barriers for our people to get the care they needed. That was really challenging because once you make the choice to reach out and ask for help, you should be able to access that help quickly.”
VCA took a boots-on-the-ground approach to its selection process, running a six-month pilot program with Lyra and two other mental health benefits providers across a subset of its workforce. After surveying associates, VCA chose Lyra as its mental health partner based on superior outcomes and employee satisfaction levels. “We wanted expertise, quick attention, and zero barriers,” said Maria Druse, VCA vice president of human resources.