The employee benefits buzz for the past two years has been—say it with us—mental health. And it’s the buzz for good reason. Mental health issues are shown to have widespread impacts on the American workforce:
We’ve seen the growing consciousness of the need for mental health support, and you have too—70% of employers recognize mental health as a significant workplace issue.6 In fact, many have done more than just recognize the issue: They’ve stepped up. Nearly 40% of employers with 50 or more employees have changed their benefits to meet their employees’ mental health needs.7 But even the most clearly defined strategies and carefully curated benefits won’t make a difference if they’re not widely known and used by employees when they need them.
The pieces won’t fall into place on their own
Consider Maria, a hypothetical employee. Like 21 million adults in the United States, she has dealt with depression.8 Her employer’s health insurance plan includes mental health services. Sometimes she struggles, but she’s able to manage her condition.
When her therapist moves out-of-network, Maria can’t afford the increased out-of-pocket costs. She continues her medication, but not her regular therapy sessions.
After months of self-managing her mild depression with mindfulness, exercise and medication, Maria’s symptoms escalate. Her productivity diminishes, and she regularly misses work, costing her a chunk of her paycheck. Her financial stress compounds her depression and she is diagnosed with major depressive disorder. She requires hospitalization and misses several weeks of work.
If we take a closer look at Maria’s story, we can see points along the path where resources and interventions might have helped prevent such a severe outcome.
And here’s the real kicker to Maria’s story: Some of those tools were available through her employer, but she didn’t know it.
Unlock greater use of your mental health benefits
An employee benefits strategy that includes mental health support is start. But it’s just that—a start. There are two critical steps that can help you make sure resources are more widely known and used.
1. Prioritize mental health.
Mental health and mental illness can be sensitive, intimidating topics for employees. When employers prioritize mental health as part of the company culture, it helps remove stigma, build trust and create opportunities for meaningful engagement. There are lots of ways—big and small—to incorporate mental health into company culture, including:9
2. Communicate (and then communicate a lot more).
Nearly half of all employees say their company has not proactively shared what mental resources are available.10 Communicating regularly and in a variety of ways is a must for getting employees’ attention. Examples include:
Participation leads to better outcomes—which is better for, well, everyone
When employees take advantage of mental health support, the impacts are far-reaching:
Significant time and effort go into developing employee benefits strategies that support both business objectives and employee health, well-being and productivity. When decisions are being made about the role mental health benefits can play in these strategies, don’t forget the keys that can help unlock greater utilization and better outcomes.
Aflac’s continued commitment to the ever-evolving emphasis on mental health
Mental health is on a spectrum, so your coverage should be too. Aflac is fully committed to being a part of the care you show employees while also tending to the well-being of your business. We look closely at our offerings to identify gaps and find places where we can fine-tune benefits—or add new ones—to help close them. Examples include:
NeuroFlow on our group long-term disability plan: NeuroFlow is a next-generation mental health solution featuring 24/7 digital behavioral health support and monitoring to create a feedback loop with employees at all points along the mental health spectrum. As an early intervention tool, it has the potential to reduce the duration and frequency of disability claims. NeuroFlow is available to insured group long-term disability policies with more than 1,000 lives.*
New mental health rider on group critical illness plans: Our new rider covers severe mental health conditions, including bipolar I, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and substance use disorder. Certificate holders will receive 10% of the plan’s face amount as a lump-sum payment upon diagnosis.**
Care managers: Licensed, master-level social workers who get to know our most vulnerable customers, their unique situations and their range of needs can skillfully navigate complex systems and conversations to remove barriers and help alleviate stressors. Care managers support members enrolled in many of our group life and disability plans.
Employee assistance plans: Offering 24/7 access to licensed counselors, our optional EAP is an additional line of support for employees wrestling with personal or workplace issues. It is available for an additional fee with our group long-term disability and some term life plans.
Telehealth: Available as a value-added service on eligible supplemental plans for eligible accounts, MeMD enables employees to connect with a licensed behavioral health specialist for specialized treatment online, anytime.
Online personal wellness platform: Health Advocate, available as a value-added service on eligible supplemental plans for eligible accounts, supports all employees in achieving their wellness goals by helping them develop a healthy lifestyle plan.
Ask your Aflac benefits representative about products and services that can support mental health and enhance your employee benefits strategy.
1 Fortune. “Nearly 40% of employers expanded mental health benefits during the pandemic.” Published 11.10.2021. Accessed 3.10.2022.
2 Forbes. “Mental health in the workplace: The high cost of depression.” Published 1.20.2021. Accessed 3.10.2022.
3 Steinberg Institute. “Fact Sheet: The cost of benefits of early intervention in mental illness.” Accessed 3.29.2022.
4 Integrated Benefits Institute. “Short- and long-term disability outcomes for mental and behavioral health claims.” Published October 2018. Accessed 3.29.2022.
5 National Safety Council. “New Mental Health Cost Calculator Shows Why Investing in Mental Health is Good for Business.” Published 5.13.2021. Accessed 3.20.2022.
6 Insurance Journal. “Employers See Employee Mental Health as Major Concern.” Published 6.25.2021. Accessed 3.14.2022.
7 Kaiser Family Foundation. “2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey.” Published 11.10.2021. Accessed 3.14.2022.
8 Psychiatric Times. “mHealth Apps for Depression: Overcoming Challenges.” Published 3.9.2022. Accessed 3.14.2022.
9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Mental Health in the Workplace” Published July 2018. Accessed 3.29.2022.
10 Qualtrics. “The other COVID-19 crisis: Mental health.” Published 4.14.2021. Accessed 3.29.2022.
11 McLean Hospital. “What employers need to know about mental health in the workplace.” Published 9.1.2020. Accessed 3.10.2022.
12 American Heart Association CEO Roundtable. “Mental Health: A workforce crisis.” Published 3.25.2019. Accessed 03.29.2022.
*CAIC’s affiliation with the Value-Added Service providers is limited only to a marketing alliance, and CAIC and the Value-Added Service providers are not under any sort of mutual ownership, joint venture, or are otherwise related. CAIC makes no representations or warranties regarding the Value-Added Service providers, and does not own or administer any of the products or services provided by the Value-Added Service providers. Each Value-Added Service provider offers its products and services subject to its own terms, limitations and exclusions. NeuroFlow is not available in ID, MN, ND, NM, NY or PR. Continental American Insurance Company, a proud member of the Aflac family of insurers, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aflac Incorporated.
**Endorsement applies to Policy Series A57600 only. Availability of the endorsement varies by state and may not be available in all states. In Idaho, Policy A57600IDR. In Oklahoma, Policies A57600OK & A57600LBOK. In Virginia, Policies A57600VA & A57600LBVA.
Content within this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting or medical advice regarding any specific situation. Aflac cannot anticipate all the facts that a particular employer will have to consider in their benefits decision-making process.
Aflac’s affiliation with the Value-Added Service providers is limited only to a marketing alliance, and Aflac and the Value-Added Service providers are not under any sort of mutual ownership, joint venture, or are otherwise related. Aflac makes no representations or warranties regarding the Value-Added Service providers, and does not own or administer any of the products or services provided by the Value-Added Service providers. Each Value-Added Service provider offers its products and services subject to its own terms, limitations and exclusions. Services, Terms and conditions are subject to change and may be withdrawn at any time. The value-added services may not be available in all states, and benefits/services may vary by state. Aflac includes Aflac and/or Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC) and/or Continental American Life Insurance Company.
When medically necessary, MeMD’s providers (except therapists) can submit a prescription electronically for purchase and pick-up at your local participating pharmacy; however, MeMD providers cannot prescribe elective medications, narcotic pain relievers, or controlled substances. MeMD’s providers are each licensed by the appropriate licensing board for the state in which they are providing services and all have prescriptive authority for each of the states in which they are licensed.
Aflac coverage may not be available in all states. Benefits/premium rates may vary based on state and plan levels. Optional riders may be available at an additional cost. Policies/riders have limitations and exclusions that may affect benefits payable. For complete details, including availability and costs, please contact your local Aflac benefits advisor.
Individual coverage is underwritten by Aflac. In New York, individual coverage is underwritten by Aflac New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999
Group coverage is underwritten by Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC), wholly-owned subsidiary of Aflac Incorporated. CAIC is not licensed to solicit business in New York, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. For groups sitused in California, coverage is underwritten by Continental American Life Insurance Company. For groups sitused in New York, group coverage is underwritten by Aflac New York. Continental American Insurance Company | Columbia, SC.
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