The ongoing mental health crisis has intensified conversations about the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health benefits offered by employers. According to a recent survey from Amwell, a staggering 85% of employees don’t utilize mental health benefits that are available through their workplace health plans. While this may seem perplexing, the underlying factors contributing to this are complex and worth unpacking for employers who are committed to the well-being of their workforce.
The Awareness Gap
A critical finding of the Amwell survey is that more than half of employees either don’t have mental health benefits included in their packages or are unsure if they do. This significant gap in awareness underscores the need for clearer communication from employers. Employers must not only include these benefits but also effectively educate employees on how to access and use them.
Challenges in Accessibility
The survey found that 56% of respondents have never seen a therapist, despite 40% experiencing an increased need for mental health treatment since the pandemic. Also, half of those who tried to use their benefits faced a waiting period, suggesting accessibility remains a key issue. Employers should therefore explore partnerships that enable quick, streamlined access to mental healthcare providers.
The Digital Revolution in Mental Health
About two-thirds of respondents indicated that they would utilize digital mental health benefits if available, and 53% wished for online resources to manage mental health. Despite this, 97% had never used digital mental health services, though 91% of those who did reported positive or neutral experiences. The data strongly advocates for a digital-first approach in providing mental health benefits.
Think of the Children
Remarkably, over four out of five respondents felt that mental health coverage for their children was more important than their own coverage. Since the pandemic, 69% reported being more worried about their children’s mental health. As employers strategize on mental health benefits, inclusion of services aimed at younger family members could be a critical factor.
The Amwell report makes it abundantly clear that simply offering mental health benefits is not enough. Employers need to step up their game in terms of education, accessibility, and comprehensive offerings that leverage digital platforms and include family services. Addressing these facets can potentially close the startling gap between availability and utilization of mental health services among employees.