After several years of a global pandemic, political and social unrest, economic uncertainty, and more, it is not surprising that employees’ mental health is suffering. Two recent surveys, from Modern Health and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), found while employer-sponsored health plan spending on mental health services is increasing, employees wish that their employer was doing even more to help the state of their mental health.
Increased spending. According to EBRI, overall spending on mental health services increased while the percentage of enrollees using outpatient services rose from 12 percent to 16 percent among people with employment-based health coverage—reflecting a 32 percent increase between 2013 to 2020. In addition, overall spending on mental health care services as a percentage of total spending increased from 6.8 percent in 2013 to 8.2 percent in 2020. Among enrollees with a mental health diagnosis, average annual spending on mental health care services increased from $1,987 to $2,380 between 2013 and 2020. Enrollees with a mental health disorder also tend to have higher overall health care spending, EBRI noted.
“Employers and workers spent nearly $77 billion on mental health disorders in 2020,” said Paul Fronstin, director of health benefits research at EBRI. “Employers are looking for ways to address the mental health needs of workers given the current economic climate. And they are especially interested in addressing mental health needs because of the connection between depression and productivity losses. Taking responsibility for workers’ mental health may not only reduce spending on health care but may increase worker productivity. It has been estimated that mental health conditions cost employers over 200 million lost workdays each year.”
Perception gap. While employees and employers both recognize that mental health benefits are an integral part of a healthy, productive workplace culture, there is still a significant gap in how employees perceive their employer’s commitment to mental health and wellness, Modern Health found. Seventy-four percent of employees report wanting their employer to care about their mental health, but 53 percent feel that they actually do. Similarly, only 46 percent of employees believe their company invests enough in the mental health of employees, while 81 percent of employers believe they invest enough.
“The past few years have left many of us feeling burnt out, exhausted, and stressed, so it’s not surprising that the topic of mental health has been forced into the spotlight. We’re seeing a bigger need for support as more people speak out about their mental health challenges but despite this progress, people around the world are still struggling to access care that meets their needs,” said Alyson Watson, founder and CEO at Modern Health. “We are at a critical inflection point where organizations need to shift from the mindset of providing mental health support as a crisis response to it being an integrated and strategic part of the employee experience. Done right, the end result means both the companies and the human beings who make them run are more connected and engaged.”
SOURCE: www.ebri.org; www.modernhealth.com
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