21/04/2024

Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

Help Your Employees During The Mental Health Supply Crisis

Help Your Employees During The Mental Health Supply Crisis

Joy Powell is the CEO of Springbuk. Connect with her about health intelligence, data analytics and leadership topics.

Given the challenges of the last few years, it is not surprising that the rate increase of adults experiencing anxiety and depression in the United States went up 27% (from 11% in 2019 to 38% in 2020), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But what many people have been unprepared for is the strain that’s been placed on the mental health care infrastructure. As a result, while many organizations have increased mental health care benefits, providers have not been able to meet the demand. That’s because it takes time to build capacity. In this case, that means training and certifying more practitioners, leaving a gap in availability. For employers, the motivation behind ensuring employees have access to good care is twofold. While leaders no doubt care about the well-being of their people, they also recognize that employees with unmet needs are less likely to be productive and engaged in their work. For these reasons, the low supply and high demand for mental health care is nothing less than a crisis.

Leaders need creative solutions to respond to this crisis. Read on for three essential strategies that can help organizations ensure their employees are receiving the care they need.

Survey employees to understand their needs.

If employers want their people to be able to easily access high-quality mental health care, the first step is to evaluate their current benefits offerings. Leaders need to know that they’re offering coverage that makes a real impact. That’s because many employees face barriers to care that can prevent them from taking advantage of their benefits. For example, cost is a concern for many patients, so it’s also important to make sure that care is affordable. Additionally, if in-network care isn’t available where your employees live, time and transportation can also limit access.

Leaders need to be aware of the barriers that limit access to care because even if an organization’s benefits look good on paper, they may not be meeting people’s needs. Using surveys to gather employee feedback can help supplement data on benefits use and other factors. That’s because while employers have access to data that shows which benefits their people are using, they may not understand why their employees and dependents use (or don’t use) certain benefits. Gathering information directly from employees can help shed light on the reasons behind these trends. With this knowledge, employers can then make informed decisions on how to distribute resources for maximum effect.

Use a third-party service to match employees with providers.

With a shortage of providers, employees are at a disadvantage when looking for mental health care on their own. Employers can help by partnering with a third party that assigns providers to employees based on their location and specific needs. With so many mental health care facilities overrun by new patient requests, a third-party partner can make a difference in ensuring your people get access to the care they need when they need it.

Telehealth and primary care can help fill the gap.

When meeting face to face with a mental health care provider isn’t an option due to availability, geography, or other factors, telehealth and primary care offer additional solutions.

The prevalence of telehealth surged during the pandemic. Though it was not widely available just a few years ago, 93% of providers now intend to continue providing telehealth services, according to UnitedHealthcare.

One drawback to telehealth is that it is largely unavailable to those without high-speed internet or the necessary hardware. Despite these limitations, it remains an important tool for expanding access to mental health care and continues to be an option for many patients.

For those who cannot access telehealth services, primary care physicians may offer a solution. Many primary care doctors have some training in mental health, and this number is rising as the shortage of mental health practitioners has become more apparent.

We’re in the midst of a mental health care crisis. However, employers have access to strategies and data that can help. Leaders can start by gathering information through surveys to help them understand their people’s mental health needs. Then, organizations can implement forward-thinking solutions, such as partnering with a third party to match their people with a provider, expanding telehealth options and encouraging employees to connect with a primary care provider that can offer mental health services. With these solutions, organizations can ensure their people get the care they need when they need it.


Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?