Mental Health Leads the Employee Benefits Conversation this Year

Demand for mental health resources rises; Benecon sees triple inquiries, indicating increased employer and employee focus.

Mental Health Conversation

It is no surprise that mental health has taken center stage in the employee benefits world. At Benecon, requests from consultants and employers seeking mental health and employee assistance program (EAP) information for their clients and employees has skyrocketed.

Compared to data from last year, Patient Advocates fielded three times as many requests for information on mental health in 2022. Mental health inquiries outpaced calls for every other health concern, including diabetes, hypertension and even oncology.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits 2022 Annual Survey, “Access to mental and behavioral health services has been an issue for employers and policymakers for a number of years. However, the implications of a pandemic combined with the accompanying social and economic disruptions, focused even more attention to this topic. In the 2021 survey, we documented steps that employers and health plans were taking to improve access and meet the increased demand for these services. This year we asked employers about the demand for and use of these services, and whether they took further steps to expand access. Among firms with 50 or more workers offering health benefits, 22% of small firms and 48% of large firms say that the percentage of employees receiving mental health services increased in the last year. Among large firms (200 or more workers) offering health benefits, a large share (81%) offer employee assistance programs, separate from those available through the health plan, for mental health.”

With the increased demand for mental health resources, what can consultants and employers do to help their clients and employees? The following list can assist with identifying the best resources.

  • Employee Assistance Programs: Does your employer offer and EAP? If so, you may have access to a network of therapists through your EAP. Many times EAP services are included free of charge as an added benefit to the health plan. Check with your HR department or benefits rep to find out how to engage with your EAP provider.