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Workers still aren’t using their mental health benefits

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Workers have been saying they want mental health benefits, but still aren’t using them.

In a July 2023 Amwell report, 85% of survey-takers said they do not use their mental health benefits. Why is this the case?

Respondents cited confusion as the reason why they hadn’t accessed mental health care — both confusion regarding how to access mental health benefits, along with what their employer-sponsored packages included. 

Survey-takers also cited a lack of telehealth options as a factor; Amwell charted a decline in in-person therapy use. About half of respondents say they prefer digital programs when caring for their mental health, and 67% said they’d be willing to use wellbeing benefits if they were digitally accessible.

The gap in care is due to an increasingly busy personal and professional life, theorized Amwell’s chief behavioral health officer, Ken Cahill. Relatedly, in health care provider OneMedical’s “State of Workplace Health” report this year, 45% of respondents said packed schedules were the reason they hadn’t accessed mental health help.

That busyness is compounded with “challenges around access, waiting lists, costs of care and inflexibility of scheduling,” Amwell’s Cahill said in a statement, suggesting that hybrid care (health care inclusive of digital options) is a solution to filling the mental health care gap.

The point of no-return

Since March 2020, worker mental health has become an increasingly hot topic for HR. Likewise, amid the Great Resignation, retention strategies including beefed-up benefits packages also became the workplace gold standard.

Data suggested that 80% of workers would feel more supported if their company invested in wellness. While respondents in the Opinium survey took physical health benefits, like sponsored gym memberships, into consideration, 56% of respondents said they were interested in monthly wellness stipends. 

About half said they were interested in employer-sponsored mindfulness sessions, and about a third said they would do yoga. 

Some mental health offerings are intangible

While researchers note that cost and education regarding total rewards are veritable barriers in worker access, research also suggests corporate leadership can stand to make some more noise about mental health offerings. 

Last summer, a report by benefits provider Unum suggested 70% of workers think their bosses can do more to end stigma around mental health in the workplace

In a case study by KPMG, a senior leader illustrated to HR Dive how training on psychological safety, a reassessment of manager workloads and encouraging more frequent one-on-one check-ins are all ways to address mental health holistically — on top of benefits offerings.

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