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Why Employers Include Mental Health in Benefit Plans

Statistics show that if you are sitting at a table with four of your friends, one of you may be suffering from a mental illness

What is mental health? Our ability to think, feel and act is based on our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Poor quality of relationships, medical conditions or financial pressures can affect a person’s well-being.

Stress, anxiety and depression that impact daily activities can lead to mental disorders and addictive behaviors. And 55.8% of Americans with a mental problem did not receive treatment, according to a 2018 report.

mental health impacts job productivity

Ralph’s Story

Ralph stared at a spreadsheet of numbers at work, but his mind kept drifting off. He and his wife had another argument last night about how much time he spent away from the family. Inside, Ralph knew she was right, but he couldn’t explain how desperate he was to escape the brooding, restless heaviness that seemed to hang over him. 

He knew he was irritable with coworkers, sometimes for no reason. Deadlines and work pressures felt like one more demand on a gas tank that was running on empty.

Ralph knew he was spiraling downward, but he didn’t know what to do. 

Early Warnings

When does mental health begin to suffer? Here are some warning signs that things may be getting out of balance:
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Isolating from people or normal activities
  • Low energy or no energy
  • Numbness
  • Hopelessness
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Edgy, angry, anxious, fearful, combative, forgetful
  • Severe mood swings
  • Persistent thoughts that won’t go away
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily routine tasks
     

Mental Health Impacts Job Productivity

Each year, US employers lose between $79 to $105 billion from employee mental health and substance abuse issues. 

Ralph had trouble concentrating at work because of his depression. He vaguely remembered that his Employee Assistance Program offered counseling benefits, through a phone consultation or meeting with a counselor in person. 

He wondered if that would make him feel more like a failure. He was afraid to let anyone know how he was feeling.

Results from MedCost Wellness Plans

MedCost employers that offer prevention and treatment options in their health plans are avoiding significant costs. In 2017, participating employers realized a 3.3 to 1 return on their investment.

How are we achieving these results? Our strategies include multifaceted outreach for employers and covered members.

3.3:1

MedCost Behavioral Health Utilization Management ROI

Effective Solutions

Some of the mental health programs we provide for health plans include:

  • Teladoc Behavioral Health

    Video or phone access for member counseling, dependent back-up care or caregiver support with immediate access, at a lower cost

  • Behavioral Health Utilization Review

    Working together with employers to customize appropriate care at appropriate cost in each situation

  • myStrength

    Technology-based self-driven programs on anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleep habits and more

  • Lifestyle Coaching

    Programs designed to encourage healthy habits for members with fitness memberships, financial education and tobacco-free living

Kati Davis, Manager of MedCost Wellness Strategies, used the myStrength website for the positive messages and focus on mindfulness and parenting. “I was seeking support and resources to be more intentional and mentally present with my family,” she said. “I learned simple solutions on myStrength to be more present with my family. These have now become habits and it feels great.”

Help That Heals

Ralph had no hope of ever escaping the crushing depression he had lived with his whole life. After failing to meet a crucial deadline at work, he decided to take action. Because his employer offered behavioral health resources by telemedicine, he called Teladoc and asked for a counselor.

Ralph was surprised at how the counselor listened and didn’t judge him. As he expressed some of his negative thought patterns, the counselor offered both reassurance and small steps Ralph could take immediately.

Ralph made another appointment to talk with the counselor again. His employer was helping to subsidize this resource and that lifted the financial pressure from him and his family. Ralph felt a beginning connection with a professional who was working with him to find a way out.

Change Is a Process

Ralph realized that restoring balance to his physical and emotional well-being was a process that would take time. His talks with his counselor gradually resulted in better concentration and relationships with coworkers. He began to share more with his wife about his internal struggles. 

He began to hope again.

Providing Resources for Your Employees

US workers suffering from depression take 68 billion more sick days annually. Employers can help erase the stigma of behavioral health by providing resources and encouraging participation whenever these resources are needed. 

Telehealth video and phone calls give members access to immediate consultations with counselors or psychiatrists for a flat fee per call.

This health care trend of benefit plans that include mental health resources is reaping not only increased well-being for employees, but significant cost savings for employers as well.
 

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