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  • Glenn Davila

5 Considerations for Mental Health Benefits

The statistics are staggering: one in five adults in the U.S. struggles with a mental health challenge. From anxiety to depression, mental health impacts overall health across diverse settings, including where people live, play, and work.

In the workplace, 61% of U.S., workers report experiencing at least one mental health symptom (e.g., burnout, depression, anxiety). Employers increasingly recognize that mental health challenges are the norm, and seek to provide mental health benefits to support their employees' well-being. In turn, they are fostering a healthier, more productive and resilient workforce. To that end, most employers realize that cultivating a supportive work environment extends beyond traditional health plan offerings, but choosing a mental health benefit can be challenging given the surplus of solutions with varying areas of focus. 

Considerations for employers selecting mental health benefits

To ensure employees receive the comprehensive support to flourish personally and professionally, here are five considerations for employers to keep in mind when evaluating mental health benefits:

1. Awareness and education

It is important to recognize the diverse spectrum of emotions and challenges individuals face balancing the demands of work and personal life. These challenges do not always fit neatly into diagnostic categories, but significantly impact employees' lives as they navigate work, family, and caregiving responsibilities. Prioritizing education about the importance of mental health ensures employees feel valued and supported, contributing to a corporate culture of empathy, and understanding.

2. Prioritize well-being

Achieving holistic health entails understanding the interconnectedness of physical and mental health. By embracing evidence-based approaches such as Lifestyle Medicine, which emphasizes preventive measures and self-care, employers can address the root causes of mental health symptoms. This proactive approach promotes sustained employee well-being.

3. Provide clinical navigation support

When employees experience acute issues, such as a new diagnosis or mental health concerns, navigating the complex landscape of healthcare options can be daunting, raising more questions than answers. Offering clinical navigation services from trained healthcare professionals ensures that individuals receive the right care from the start, reducing unnecessary tests and visits. Guiding employees to the appropriate mental health resource or provider for their unique needs enables them to seek help confidently and efficiently.

4. Offer personalized referrals for in-person care

Some individuals may benefit from ongoing therapy or in-person treatment. Providing personalized referrals for in-person care that accounts for employees' insurance coverage, cultural preferences, and language needs, ensures that employees receive the care they need that is aligned to their preferences.  What's more, when done correctly, referrals for in-person care also account for provider availability and sub-specialization, alleviating lengthy wait times. 

5. Extend support to families

Employee well-being is intricately tied to their dependents. Benefits for mental health should include the family unit. Providing access to mental health expertise for children, aging parents, and caregivers underscores a commitment to holistic health and well-being. By addressing the continuum of care for families, employers demonstrate a genuine investment in the overall health and happiness of their employees. 

The strategic edge of prioritizing employee mental health

When mental health benefits deliver on these considerations, they not only create a culture of empathy, but also empower employees to prioritize their well-being. This leads to a more engaged and highly functioning workforce — the result of genuine investment in the overall health and happiness of employees. Employers navigating the labyrinth of options can use these considerations as a guide while developing an inclusive workplace where employees feel seen, valued, and supported.

Source: EBN

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