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Three ways to help employees act on their mental health needs

By Accolade | October 12, 2022 | 4 min read

The importance of prioritizing employee mental health should come as no surprise to any human resources professional — since 52.9 million Americans are living with mental health issues.[1] What’s more alarming, though, is that the mental health providers who are able to treat these disorders are in short supply. 

The U.S. healthcare system continues to operate with life-threatening design flaws that limit the ability to deliver impactful and high value care. This means your employees frequently face barriers to receiving the mental healthcare they need and deserve. These barriers include lack of:  

  • Financial resources 

  • Access to care 

  • Education and awareness  

  • Emotional support  

But there are ways you can help your people when they need it most. Here’s how. 

Uncover and address barriers to care, including emotional state and needs

In addition to the list above, employees are faced with stigma around anxiety and depression. They are topics that people don’t feel comfortable talking about in general, let alone in the workplace. But your employees’ mental health impacts their lives and work alike. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. affecting around 40 million adults each year.[2]  

One key to removing the stigma behind mental illness talk in the workplace is opening the door to meaningful conversations around your employees’ wellbeing. Here are four tips to help ensure these talks are positive, open and don’t get too awkward: 

  • Use inclusive language 

  • Lead by example 

  • Give solutions that employees can really use 

  • Always be authentic 

It’s important to take an open-minded, holistic approach to caring for your people that considers the behavioral, social, community and lifestyle factors that impact their health decisions. If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, our proprietary model uncovers and addresses barriers to care — including emotional state and needs.  

Utilize a comprehensive clinical model that includes both mental health and physical healthcare services

Anxiety and depression are common mental health struggles that are comorbidities. They add complexity, complicate recovery time and are intertwined with physical conditions — such as musculoskeletal and chronic condition management. Without recognizing and acknowledging how mental and physical health illnesses impact one another, you’re not able to provide the best care for your employees. 

Currently, 63% of workers are dissatisfied with their employer’s mental health support.[3] It’s time to change that. Your employees deserve an approach that is designed to give people instant, integrated, high-quality care for better health and costs savings.  

Our goal is to make sure your employees know how to use their benefits and work through the various obstacles that they face. We want to close knowledge gaps and help your people understand and navigate a broad range of care options that can address both physical and mental health. By doing so, we achieve broad engagement across all levels and spend bands with 66% of members engaging before seeking care. 

And by utilizing a collaborative care model, a type of healthcare that aims for concurrent treatment of mental health issues with physical conditions — not separately, we can help organizations tie mental healthcare more holistically into their benefits plans. This ensures companies are caring for the entirety of their team’s healthcare needs. 

Understand life context needs for each employee’s mental healthcare needs

There are many fundamental flaws in the U.S. healthcare system — one being the inadequate access to healthcare. Currently, 3.6 million Americans do not receive medical care due to transportation.[4] And 112 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of mental health professionals.[5] Our health assistants and nurses use every interaction with your employees to uncover additional health needs, life context and barriers to care. With this insight, our team develops a 360-degree view of each person and a care plan that directly addresses their needs and overcomes the obstacles to care, including financial, social and clinical.  

Traditional advocacy solutions ignore and amplify access issues. They focus on members that are already down a care path and often engage members only after high-cost events. Our solution recognizes the importance of catching people in all the moments that matter in their healthcare journey. Particularly, addressing health risks and social determinants of health risk factors early on. It enables us to connect people with the right care path early on and keep them on that path. Our approach is 30% more likely than traditional providers to incorporate contextual factors into care plans.*

Influence employees to take action on their mental health

Without proper access to healthcare, we see higher morbidity and mortality rates. And as we know, poor mental health can negatively affect job performance, productivity and engagement.[6] It’s time to acknowledge the barriers employees face when trying to access care — including, but not limited to, access, financial constraints and education.  

We incorporate 93% of barriers to care into our care plans because a person’s life situation and contextual factors are responsible for up to 80% of health outcomes.[7] By proactively addressing barriers to care and improving health outcomes for members, our customers see significant cost trend reductions and improved care. 

Want to learn more? Contact an Accolade representative today. 

* Subset of Accolade Total Health and Benefits customers 

[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness  

[2] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics

[3] https://go.ginger.io/hubfs/200626_Ginger_Report2020.pdf

[4] http://www.hpoe.org/Reports-HPOE/2017/sdoh-transportation-role-of-hospitals.pdf   

[5] https://mhanational.org/issues/2021/mental-health-america-access-care-data 

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html 

[7] https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2019/02/medicaid-s-role-in-addressing-social-determinants-of-health.html 

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