Mercer Marsh Benefits

Are you supporting mental health?

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on mental health across the globe. As a result, employee emotional well-being has risen rapidly up the corporate agenda.

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt day-to-day life globally, its impact on mental health has become an area of increased focus. Feelings of anxiety and loneliness are on the rise around the world.

One Canadian survey on mental health found that 23% of respondents had felt lonely occasionally or most of the time in past week. A similar study in the UK found similar rates of loneliness, with 23% of the survey population reporting feeling lonely in the previous two weeks. A study in South Korea revealed that 45% of the respondents had reported clinical levels of depression, anxiety or stress. And in the United States, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 41% of adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.

As a result, employee emotional well-being has risen rapidly up the corporate agenda. Employers are alert to the importance of having a comprehensive health strategy in place, in particular supports for mental health. Those that had previously taken a passive approach to supporting employee health and well-being are now trying to proactively create workplace benefit programs that support mental health.

23%

in Canada felt lonely occasionally or most of the time in the past week

23%

in UK felt lonely in the previous two weeks

45%

in South Korea reported clinical levels of depression, anxiety or stress

41%

in US reported the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health

Moving beyond Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

The pandemic has highlighted the need for better access to mental healthcare, as more people suffer from stress, loneliness and depression. At the same time, complex mental health issues like addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder are on the rise.

Employers that had previously taken a passive approach to supporting employee health and wellbeing are now trying to proactively create workplace benefit programs that support mental health.

While an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has traditionally been the cornerstone of an employer’s mental health strategy, new solutions are allowing organizations to focus on prevention, resilience and internal policies.

For instance, digital platforms for scientifically validated therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can make it easier to offer solutions to all employees, improving access to care options outside of traditional face-to-face counselling.

When building a comprehensive strategy to support mental health concerns, there are three key items to keep in mind:

  • Use data to understand employees’ needs: It is important for employers to understand the unique mental health needs of their population.

  • Offer value to employees: A one-size-fits-all approach to mental health has never been optimal.

  • Reduce stigma: Employers should equip managers and supervisors with the skills to identify early warning signs of stress and mental health issues.

A strong mental health strategy allows an employer to set a framework, identify gaps, address employee preferences and cover needs across the entire spectrum of mental health conditions.

Case study

When carried out correctly, a review of offerings and the creation of a mental health pathway to ensure coordination across programs should benefit both the organization and the employees.

Who

A large US-based financial services company operating in the UK

What

A review of how mental health cases were being managed by the existing providers that the company had in place, such as occupational health, private medical insurance, and onsite general practitioners (family medicine doctors). The company also wanted to evaluate the success of their EAP and look at utilization of existing benefits and costs.

Why

Private medical claims costs for mental health conditions had risen significantly over a twelve-month period. The organization had also seen an increase in referrals to psychiatrists and hospital admissions, and it was unable to obtain a cohesive dataset due to lack of coordination between providers.

How

Mercer Mash Benefits (MMB) designed a mental health pathway that:

  • Assesses the individual and refers them to the best resources offered.
  • Provides a group of EAP counselors and psychiatrists specially trained on the employers environment, offerings and key events; onsite cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling.
  • Establishes monthly calls with all providers/ stakeholders to address implementation and facilitate the effective ongoing management of the program.

In addition, MMB identified the most appropriate psychological health outcome measures and provided advice on the design of an integrated data set.

Results

In the first two years, there was a:

  • 9% reduction in the number of mental health claims
  • 13% reduction in the total cost
  • 16% reduction in the average cost of claims
  • 60% improvement in patient outcomes

Discover how to build a strategic mental health program that will lead to healthier and more engaged staff.

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