Mental health issues, including conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide, are growing at an alarming rate in America. The United States Is Experiencing a 60% Post-Covid Increase in Mental Health Needs with 1 in 3 US Adults1 Reporting of symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Unfortunately, there are not enough mental health professionals to help everyone who needs their help.
Now is the time to promote and provide a broad spectrum of evidence-based mental health resources, starting in the workplace. Employers must play a role in the solution by providing employees with responsible health services for the whole person, from physical to mental. To accelerate the rapid progress we need, here are five questions employers and benefit plan sponsors should be asking when considering and implementing mental health services for their employees.
#1: Despite the current shortage of mental health care professionals, how can employers ensure that individuals receive help?
There is an incredibly high demand for mental health services, yet there are not enough healthcare providers to help. In fact, 50 million American adults will experience some form of mental illness in 2022.2, but more than half did not receive any treatment for their condition. With an average wait time of six weeks for behavioral health services, even those seeking help may not be able to get it. In addition to your employees, their families are struggling too – 60% of youth with mental health needs are going untreated3,
Fortunately, there are many easily accessible solutions to offer your employees, including digital self-guided programs and coaching services, which can be a great first step for those with mild or sub-clinical symptoms or conditions. Are. This may not only be a faster option for some but can free up mental health professionals who need to focus on individuals with clinical or more serious conditions.
Additionally, offer a range of virtual solutions – including digital programs, coaching and therapy – for its employees one place Increases reach fivefold.
#2: What can HR leaders do to offer more robust care options while considering the cost implications?
When evaluating the effectiveness versus cost of mental health programs, it is important to consider all factors beyond initial dollar signs. It may be an investment to offer a wide range of mental health services, but it can make all the difference for your employees and your overall organization.
Currently, 1 in 4 Americans must choose between mental health treatment and daily necessities4, This has a profound effect on their well-being, which in turn affects your organization. In fact, individuals with unresolved depression experience a 35% decrease in productivity.5, In many cases, even low-cost interventions such as digital programs or coaching can help individuals realize clinical benefits.
To implement cost-effective services that will really move the needle of your workforce, take a guided approach to care. Offer services and programs that provide the right mix of support, and measure progress over time. This personalized, proactive approach to mental health care can also help your employees get help earlier, which is especially important for conditions like anxiety that often have a slow onset and can be easily missed. By proactively connecting your employees with reliable, quality mental health care, you can prevent the progression of more costly and complicated conditions.
#3: How can employers make mental health more accessible?
Due to the stigma associated with mental health, the complexity of the healthcare ecosystem, and confusion about what type of care they need, seeking mental health services can be overwhelming for many people. 61% of people seeking mental health care say it’s hard to even know where to start6,
Approachability starts with dedicated human support. A coach can be instrumental in guiding individuals along their journey, supporting them every step of the way to provide guidance and encouragement. Surveys have shown that more than 80% of individuals prefer to have a dedicated coach7, By having someone who supports them through their journey, people complete up to three times more supportive activities, helping to maintain progress and improvement over time.
#4: How can virtual mental health solutions help improve health equity for disproportionately affected populations?
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “Economically and socially marginalized groups often have higher rates of chronic diseases and higher preventable morbidity and mortality—yet they have little access to primary care or mental health.” Services have low utilization rates.8, Overall, Mental Health Disparities in the US Contribute to $278 Billion in Excess Costs9,
Virtual care can be a great equalizer for mental health. Unaffected by geographic location, virtual solutions can provide access to a more broad and diverse pool of resources and mental health professionals.
Additionally, digital programs and coaching, which avoid fee-for-service costs, can reduce cost barriers that may prevent or delay individuals from seeking care. In addition, built-in interpretation services can help reduce language barriers to enable a high-quality care experience.
#5: How can an integrated approach to care affect employee health and well-being?
Mental health concerns can increase the challenges of living with a chronic condition—and may even put people at higher risk of developing it. An integrated approach to physical and mental health care helps identify risks and interventions to avoid downstream losses in cost and productivity.
Addressing co-existing conditions holistically makes it easier for individuals to achieve their health goals. An integrated approach that provides a wide range of services – primary care, mental health, chronic condition management, and more – helps identify mental health needs across a broad population and provides clinical support for some of your highest-cost populations. Extends results, such as chronic conditions.
It’s never too late to evaluate your current mental (and physical) health services and programs. By understanding these five key trends, you are one step closer to successfully implementing integrated, high-quality healthcare solutions that can impact your employees and your organization at large.