Teva joins pharma's help-the-helpers trend with campaign for Canada's COVID caregivers

Caregiver end of life care nursing home palliative care
Pharma companies are undertaking more initiatives to support caregivers who are under more stress than ever thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Getty/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

Study after study has shown the heavy burden on caregivers during the pandemic—especially unpaid ones. They’re more likely than average to report symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more likely to increase substance abuse and consider suicide, according to a Centers for Disease Control report.

Teva Canada is hoping to help lessen COVID caregiver stress with a raft of new resources and programs to support mental health. Launched Tuesday in honor of National Caregivers Day in Canada, the effort includes virtual life coaching sessions and free access to a caregiver support app, along with new caregiver stories offering insight and advice on Teva’s Life Effects website.

“A year into the pandemic, continued uncertainty and isolation have disrupted all our normal routines and made caregivers particularly vulnerable to mental health issues as they take on more responsibilities to keep loved ones safe,” Teva Canada General Manager, Christine Poulin, said in a statement.

The drugmaker joins other pharma companies in recognizing the pandemic's negative effect on unpaid caregivers. Many are jumpstarting their support initiatives.

A recent study from Merck KGaA and its U.S. arm EMD Serono found a surge in unpaid caregivers—20% who are first-timers—struggling with physical, mental and financial burdens more than ever. Caregivers spent 23 hours per week on average helping family members and loved ones during the pandemic, an increase of nearly 8 hours every week, the study found.

RELATED: Pandemic stress weighs on caregivers' well-being, Merck KGaA study finds

Merck KGaA and EMD Serono are using the results to drive awareness and "to work with policymakers, work with other advocacy organizations and work with employers to ensure that we are supporting as best as we can this very often under-recognized and under-appreciated population,” Merck KGaA’s head of communications told Fierce Pharma in February.

Meanwhile, a coalition of pharma companies including Takeda, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb are sponsoring Mental Health America’s COVID-19 educational efforts to help caregivers and other including mental health screening tools, webinars and podcasts.

RELATED: Teva launches employee 'Villyge' to improve work-life balance

Mylan, for its part, sponsored a Sesame Street effort in August called “Caring for Each Other” that was specifically aimed at helping parent caregivers. The effort uses popular Sesame Street characters such as Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster in videos to help parents dealing with children’s worries and their own stress.

In the U.S., Teva has partnered with the Villyge family benefits organization to offer its parent employees a workshop to help manage work and family during the pandemic.