Employees want help managing mental health — how some employers are responding

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Ingrid Stiver Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US September 17, 2019

In a recent HRI survey, 43 percent of respondents covered by an employer said they want their employer to help them manage their mental health and well-being—on par with the share wanting help with physical health and well-being. Some employers are taking action by addressing the stigma surrounding mental health, integrating mental health services with primary care and other services, and improving access.

Examples

  • One pharmaceutical company is piloting a task force at its headquarters that is focused on reducing the stigma around mental health through an eight-hour mental health first aid training for employees who volunteer for the task force. The training teaches the volunteers how to identify someone who appears to need help, be a resource to that person and connect them to the appropriate resources.
  • A manufacturing company integrated behavioral health services into primary care at its worksite clinics 18 months ago. Since then, the company has seen a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions compared to trends in community practices.
  • One biotechnology company has placed therapists from its employee assistance program (EAP) in its onsite health clinic. The company located its EAP within the onsite health clinic to reduce stigma and integrate physical and mental healthcare. The company also offers its employees 25 free visits with the EAP therapists per family member each year, in person or virtually.
  • A New York-based health system rolled out an app to 30,000 of its 68,000 employees that allows them to assess their mental health and work to improve it. The app identifies low acuity mental health issues and helps the employee deal with them while flagging higher acuity issues to be triaged for immediate care.

What it means for employers

Some employers are taking action by addressing the stigma surrounding mental health, integrating mental health services with primary care and other services, and improving access.

These severe cases could include the nearly 21 million individuals with employer coverage who have a mental illness accompanied by a chronic or complex chronic illness. These employees incur two to five times more in healthcare costs than employees with mental illness and no chronic conditions.

Health systems also are addressing access issues and the intersection of physical and mental well-being. Ninety-five percent of provider executives responding to a 2018 HRI survey said it is important to partner with mental health organizations and 59 percent said they plan to invest more in extended care teams, including mental health professionals, over the next five years compared to the previous five years.

For citations, implications and insights, please read our full report, Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2020.

For more of HRI’s insights and content, visit our Regulatory Center and report library.

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Contact us

Trine K. Tsouderos

HRI Regulatory Center Leader, PwC US

Tel: +1 (312) 241 3824

Alexander Gaffney

Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US

Tel: +1 (202) 836 1604

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