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Mental Health Issues are Becoming More Prevalent in the Workplace, but Employer Support Can Help

May 6, 2024
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Mental health issues are on the rise in America, so it’s no wonder they’re being seen more often in the workplace.

However, more than half of those who experience mental health issues don’t receive treatment, mostly because they can’t afford it, even with their health care coverage.

An increasing number of employee absences is attributed to mental health issues. In addition, mental health-related disability claims have jumped more than 40% in the last five years, according to a study by Guardian.

Offering adequate mental health support is the most important issue that nearly a third (29%) of employees say they want their employer to address. While employers have made progress in addressing workforce mental health, more can be done. They must continue to expand their toolkits to provide support that can be accessed when employees need it. Support must also be simple to use and effective.

Virtual/Digital therapy

Unlike in-person therapy sessions, which can take weeks or even months to secure, virtual or digital therapy appointments can often be made within 48 hours.

Provider networks are more expansive than ever, giving employees more therapists to choose from. This can help overcome cultural and gender considerations, and addresses lack of transportation.

Mental health training

Educate employees on how to recognize the warning signs of someone who is struggling or suicidal, how to best support them, and how to connect them to professional treatment. Education can also help curb the stigma surrounding those who have mental health challenges.

Self-guided, app-based solutions

Virtual, on-demand support through apps can minimize stress. Apps that focus on meditation, breathing exercises, stress relief and guided content can calm anxiety, as well as help a person achieve mindfulness and fall asleep naturally.

Enhanced EAPs

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) have been around for years. They are the primary mental health benefit that most organizations offer, but traditional EAPs often have very low utilization rates. Employers can no longer provide an EAP just to check a box that states they offer mental health services.

EAPs have been underutilized because employees don’t know they exist or they’re concerned about confidentiality. Therefore, a robust communication strategy is needed. Rebranding the EAP, identifying advocates, training managers and developing frequent communication touchpoints that promote different resources available through the EAP will help.

Oswald’s experienced team can help your organization evaluate its needs and create a tailored benefits plan to address mental health issues among employees.

Facts about mental health

Oswald and Univation Labs found the following in a recent study of employer health care claims data, related to mental health.

  • The number of mental health services/1,000 people increased by 6% from 2022 to 2023. This is following a 4% increase from 2021 to 2022.
  • Paid claims per employee per year were up 8.5% from 2022 to 2023.
  • Millennials and Gen Z have the highest prevalence of mental health claims, with 26% of the membership in those generational age bands experiencing a mental health claim in 2023.
  • The highest-costing diagnoses continue to be anxiety and depression.
  • 11% of paid claims were out of network compared to 3% for primary care.

To learn more, please contact me below or learn more on our Employee Benefits page.

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