Industry Trends: Making Mental Health Benefits Accessible to Employees

Industry Trends: Making Mental Health Benefits Accessible to Employees

As reports of mass shootings continues to bring our nation to its knees, the arguments for stricter gun control legislation have also been met with another plea from both citizens and members of Congress—more investment in mental health services.

While there is no direct link between serious mental illness and gun violence, mental health conditions impact an estimated one in five people in the workforce. Given that statistic, well-being programs should be top of the mind for employers looking to improve access to care and break the stigma for employees who feel they need to hide any behavioral health issues.

The economic impact of depression and anxiety comes at a price—approximately $210 billion—and a little less than half of that cost is related to lost productivity in the workplace.

Although there are signs of progress, mental health continues to remain a taboo topic, particularly in the workplace. People aren’t comfortable talking about it, but identifying and getting early intervention leads to the best outcome.

Employers can help improve the knowledge and access to behavioral health benefits by having top down organizational visibility. Raising awareness and keying in ongoing cultural acceptance, rather than just checking a box, improves the climate and ongoing values of the organization.

Access to care may be the biggest barrier of all to overcome. Employers can help by using data to determine the employees who are missing out on mental healthcare. For example, roughly 20% of people are impacted by mental health across the nation, and if claims numbers are way below that, action needs to be taken to drive help and support.

Employee Assistance programs (EAP) are a great tool that employers can use to address behavioral health issues, but utilization is often low–usually stemming from the concern of employees that they are afraid about confidentiality and that they will feel unsupported if their manager finds out. To maximize the scope and support, companies should make sure their EAP services address key areas of stress—including financial wellness, caregiving, and legal issues.

Kistler Tiffany Benefits’  works with a few selective organizations that can help implement an EAP program at your business. If you are interested in learning more, please contact your Employee Benefits’ Consultant or Account Executive.