How to help plan members overcome COVID-19’s impact on mental healthHow to help plan members overcome COVID-19’s impact on mental health
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How to help plan members overcome COVID-19’s impact on mental health

April 26, 2022
Bryana Allen

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the need for care is so great, employers should follow these steps to put their workforce on the path to better mental health.

Last month, the World Health Organization released a scientific brief which estimates the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in 2020. The primary reason? Multiple stress factors brought about by the pandemic.

The American workplace isn’t immune from these stressors. According to SilverCloud Health’s 2021 Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing Checkup, about two-thirds of employees have clinically measurable mental health symptoms of anxiety or depression. Employees are burnt-out.

Psychologists define burnout as a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged or repeated stress. A person experiencing mental distress or burnout has a hard time engaging in their everyday life, let alone work. In fact, the SilverCloud Health survey respondents with mild distress report being non-productive for 3 hours each workday.

Even though 50% of companies have made mental health support a top priority since 2020, there is still a disconnect between what employees want and what their employers provide. A survey conducted by Calm found 4 in 10 employees report their employer hasn’t done enough to support their mental health during the pandemic.

Fortunately, there are some easy solutions to help employers bridge this gap and truly nurture mental wellbeing.

3 ways to overcome member burnout and improve mental health

1. Create a culture of support around mental health at work

Despite the high incidence of mental health distress, there is still significant workplace stigma around mental health. According to Calm, 3 in 4 employees report not taking a sick or mental health day even though they needed to because they felt guilty. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the need for care is so great, employers should ensure they’re doing everything possible to reduce stigma as a barrier to treatment. 

Employers can help combat workplace stigma by launching an internal anti-stigma campaign to change attitudes around mental illness and direct employees to resources for support. It’s a simple solution that 79% of employees feel would be valuable. Components of your anti-stigma campaign might include talking openly about mental health, actively acknowledging workplace stressors, encouraging employees to take time off, and reinforcing your organization’s commitment to overall wellness. Reducing stigma also removes a major barrier to employee engagement in benefits and programs to treat mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

2. Educate plan members on their mental health benefits

Around 39% of employers updated their health plans to expand access to mental health services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundations 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. Despite this increased access to care, mental health services often go unused because plan members are not aware of them. In fact, less than 7% of employees participate in Employee Assistance Programs.

Employers can help increase awareness of mental health services by sharing information about available covered benefits at regular frequencies in all employee communications.

3. Consider Amino to guide plan members to mental health services

Mental health provider networks are very narrow and hard to navigate. A National Alliance on Mental Illness survey found people are far less likely to find or use an in-network mental health provider compared to any other type of provider. About 70% of participants reported having difficulty finding a mental health provider who would accept their insurance compared to other types of specialty medical care.

Narrow networks, more complex benefits portfolios, and a growing list of mental health support services present a real challenge to plan members. Amino Health’s digital healthcare guidance platform provides members with actionable recommendations for mental health services in the context of your full benefits ecosystem. 

And in January 2022, we added nearly half a million mental health providers to our platform. By using Amino, members become more aware of - and engaged with - the benefits available to them, and they have access to a more intuitive way to find and book in-network, high-quality, low-cost mental healthcare.  

We’re your partner in charting a path forward toward better employee mental health.

Learn more about how Amino Health can help your employees maximize their mental health benefits.

Request a Demo

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