3 tips for taking your mental health and well-being benefits to the next level

3 tips for taking your mental health and well-being benefits to the next level

Source : https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/3-tips-for-taking-your-mental-health-and-well-being-benefits-to-the-next-level

3 tips for taking your mental health and well-being benefits to the next level

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By now, we’re all aware of the importance of mental health benefits — and for good reason. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every dollar invested in mental healthcare for employees has a four dollar return in regained productivity and reduced future health costs.

And thanks to regulatory changes and years of improved awareness, mental healthcare coverage is more accessible than ever. In fact, as of 2014, even small employer and individual health plans are required to include coverage.

However, that doesn’t mean everyone in your workforce is covered, or that your colleagues are getting the most of your mental health and wellbeing investment. Here are some tips to take these programs to the next level.

Expand access: Expanding access to services and adding service coverage are key to helping your employees take control of their mental health and wellbeing.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many providers have been moving to telehealth and virtual appointments. But some employees may still be reluctant to try telehealth. Now is a great time to remind patients to take advantage of these services covered by your plan.

Additionally, you might consider some options to expand the number of employees covered.

Especially in large, retail or service-based companies, it’s common to have a portion of your team working part-time. This often means they do not qualify for the company health plan. For these employees, an employee assistance program (EAP) can bridge the gap and make care more accessible.

An EAP is a voluntary program that offers crisis support services to participating employees. With an EAP, employees and their families can request assessments, referrals and counseling. As a voluntary benefit, it can be offered to part-time employees, those who are covered by a family member’s health plan and even an employee’s family. Just as with alerting employees about telehealth, it’s also vital to communicate the addition of an EAP to employees and members.

Create incentives: According to a recent survey, more than one in four Americans have declined medical treatment because they didn’t know if it was covered by their health insurance plan, and more than half incorrectly believe that mental healthcare isn’t covered at all.

One of the best ways to combat this misunderstanding is through employee engagement campaigns and incentives. For example, one of our clients created a wellness challenge where employees received points for completing a series of tasks. These tasks were tracked on the wellness portal, meaning they were interacting more with the platform and learning more about its capabilities.

Then, to drive home the focus on mental health and wellbeing, the winner of the challenge was offered trial subscriptions to a healthy meal kit service and Talkspace, a top-rated online counseling provider.

Streamline your offerings: For many employers, a tailored benefits plan means a patchwork of several vendors that best fit your workforce. This can create confusion and complexity, especially if you select an outside EAP vendor whose mental health coverages may overlap or intersect with your health plan.

Speak with your benefits consultant about ways to streamline your offering. That might mean one app where you can access all of your plan components, or a benefits concierge service that will help send employees in the right direction. Your consultant should also have a wide variety of educational resources available such as webinars and pamphlets.

Once you’ve successfully streamlined the employee-facing side of a customized benefits package, encourage employees to take advantage of all those perks. This is where multiple easy access points can make a difference.

Take the client we spoke about before: During their wellness challenge, each member of the HR team kept a link to the wellbeing app in their internal email signatures. That provided a constant reminder about the challenge and a shortcut to log in.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to this year’s unprecedented demand for mental healthcare: increased awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, even in the workplace. But, there’s more we can do.

Know when to ask questions. Are your employees taking advantage of this service? Do they have appropriate time off to get to their appointments? Do they feel confident there will not be repercussions for using these services?

In the next five years, we’d love to see mental health become part of the mandatory requirements of a health plan, such as the annual physical or selected primary care provider. However, until that day comes, it’s important to take an active role in promoting the use of mental health services. Your employees, your company culture and your bottom line will thank you.