Since the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and several other significant events have wreaked havoc on our collective health and mental well-being. MHA’s Work Health Survey findings indicate that the pandemic has intensified preexisting employee issues, including increased risk of workplace stress and burnout and insufficient access to affordable healthcare. These terrible circumstances have helped pave the way to the normalization of mental health challenges at work.
A recent study showed that 50% of full-time U.S. workers left their previous roles due to mental health reasons and reported performing at 72% of their total capacity in the past year when considering their mental health. Additionally, those who felt their employer supported their mental health were 2.5x more likely to stay at their company for 2+ years and 5.6x more likely to trust their company and its leaders.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calculates that anxiety and depression cost the economy $1 trillion per year globally in lost productivity. However, WHO also discovered that for every $1 spent on treating ordinary mental health concerns, there’s a $4 return in improved health and productivity for employers. A report from the American Heart Association’s CEO Roundtable stated, “The cost of doing nothing is higher than investing in evidence-based prevention and treatment.”
We sat down with Chelsea Carman, Healthgram’s Mental Health Coordinator, to discuss a few ways that employers can help impact and improve the mental health of their employees:
Employers play a considerable role in providing benefits to employees. 50% of the total U.S. population receives employer-sponsored health insurance. 34% of employees in the MHA survey reported that they couldn’t afford their health care costs. Employees constantly struggle to pay premiums and cannot afford additional co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses, and out-of-network costs to access needed care.
It's common for employees to forgo doctor's visits or therapy sessions because they don't want the added stress of having to take out a big chunk of their paycheck to receive care. There's the common theme of "Maybe I will go when I get paid next week" or "I'll only go this once." When people avoid care, it can open the door for self-medicating or using other unreliable (and potentially dangerous) methods to cope. Additionally, the domino effect of delaying treatment or self-medicating can turn a manageable condition into a chronic one.
Healthgram clinics allow companies to offer a dedicated doctor to their workforce. Employee membership is 100% voluntary, with no out-of-pocket costs. Employers pay on the employees’ behalf – giving employees easy access to their primary care doctor.
Click here to learn how primary care doctors keep track of mental health in their patients.
Carving time out to schedule an appointment, taking time off work, and traveling to a doctor’s or therapist’s office can disrupt mental health alone.
I’ve come across many employees who don’t want to take more time off work than necessary. Commuting to a doctor’s office that’s potentially 30 minutes away from their home or office, sitting in the waiting room, meeting the doctor, and traveling back home is not worth it for many. In turn, this brings me to the point of avoiding or delaying care altogether, which can create even more stress on the employee who simply needs physical or mental health care from their doctor. Solutions like Virtual Primary Care (VPC) can remove obstacles in obtaining care. The therapeutic approach of VPC supports a positive behavioral change and is accessible from anywhere, providing help on-demand without the long commute or wait times.
Research shows that 50% of employees admit they don’t understand their benefits package.
Many employees will assume everything is covered, or not a lot is covered, then realize something they thought was covered isn’t, or the cost differs from what they thought. The inability to receive a clear understanding of their healthcare benefits from a knowledgeable source can cause an employee to feel their company doesn’t care much about the health and wellness of their employees. It can also create fear in even utilizing company healthcare benefits altogether. That being said, when we began talking about decreasing the confusion, I immediately thought of our Member Advocacy Program. It’s not just a program that helps employees understand how their benefits work. It communicates to employees that their employer cares about them and their health. With Member Advocacy, employees can work with a dedicated advisor to help them navigate care, coverage, and cost. An advisor helps employees make educated choices confidently based on easy access to experts, plan information, and care options.
Don’t wait until open enrollment to be vocal about the benefits your company offers. Have a communication strategy in place and keep it clear and consistent. From flyers and brochures to monthly newsletters to members, consistent communication can help to ensure employees know their benefits program in detail. When employees know how to use their benefits, plan participation goes up, and per-person program costs go down about 20% annually.
I once met with an employee who decided that she was going to quit her job. She was far too overwhelmed and couldn’t keep up with all her responsibilities, along with her growing stress and anxiety. However, after she communicated this to her employer, he encouraged her to try an EAP session before quitting entirely, as they offered three free sessions for new users. Once she went to her EAP session, she felt relieved. After just one session of EAP, she realized she needed only a few days off and someone to talk to now and then. She ended up not quitting her job and discovered how to manage her daily responsibilities and care for her mental health.
If there’s one good thing that has come from the uncertainty of the last two years, it’s the increased awareness of supporting employee mental health. Ensuring that your employees are informed about their benefits and how to access them is key to helping them maintain their physical and mental health.
Healthgram’s diversified healthcare solutions allow your workforce to attain better financial, physical, and mental health while cutting the confusion and frustration that traditionally accompanies employer-sponsored insurance. See how we’re making a difference and how we can help your company uncover a new approach to care.