Not so long ago, the general business culture was “work is work and home is home,” and employees kept their personal issues to themselves.
Thankfully, the business world has begun to evolve beyond that view. Leaders have learned that providing mental health support isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s better for business.
Today’s employers have access to new tools to improve the mental health of their employees. Of employers surveyed in the 2020-2021 Aflac WorkForces Report, 31% said they offered virtual mental health coaching, 29% offer group counseling and 19% provide on-site mental health care.1 With the increased attention paid to mental wellness, these numbers are poised to grow.
Before the pandemic, one in five adults in the U.S. had a mental health condition, and nearly 8% of the population had a substance use disorder.2 Months of fear, grief and isolation exacerbated these problems; as the American Psychological Association put it: “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.”3
Your clients can play an important role in supporting people’s mental wellness. Doing so doesn’t just help their workforce; it helps their business, too.
The business case for mental health support
In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 40% of people in the United States were experiencing a mental or behavioral health condition, including anxiety, depression and substance use. More than 10% of those surveyed by the CDC said they had seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days.4
Employers noticed. Nearly 90% of about 1,000 employers who responded to a McKinsey & Company survey reported that the pandemic was affecting the behavioral health or productivity of their employees.5
A proactive approach to providing mental health services saves companies money in the long run by increasing productivity, reducing turnover and preventing chronic stress from leading to costly diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
It’s also a must-have for recruitment; increasingly, people are expecting better mental health coverage and more support from their employers. This is especially true of younger employees, including those in the millennial generation and Gen Z, who tend to be more open about their mental health challenges.
Employers level up their mental health services
As with other types of employee benefits, the trend in mental health services is toward more choices and personalization Back in 2019, 66% of employers planned to emphasize mental and behavioral health in the coming years, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey of 610 employers who collectively employ more than 11 million people.6 No one could have foreseen how necessary that shift would soon become.
Here’s some of what the leading employers are offering:
The mental health crisis is complex and not easily solved. Brokers can help clients support their employees in a holistic way and have a powerful impact on their businesses and the broader community.
1 Aflac. “Aflac WorkForces Report: Workplace Benefits Trends Executive Summary.” Published September 2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 2019.” Published September 2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
3 American Psychological Association. “Stress in America 2020.” Published October 2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic—United States, June 24-30, 2020.” Published 8.14.2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
5 McKinsey & Company. “National Employer Survey Reveals Behavioral Health in a COVID-19 Era as a Major Concern.” Published 6.9.2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
6 Willis Towers Watson. “Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey.” Published 2020. Accessed 3.26.2021.
7 Benefits Pro. "The growing importance of EAPS as Americans head back to the office." Published July 28, 2021. Accessed April 6, 2022.
8 SHRM. "Employers identify workforce mental health priorities for 2022." Published Jan. 26, 2022. Accessed 4.6.2022.
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