Today’s workforce faces a range of mental and behavioral health issues including stress, anxiety, depression and substance use disorder. Millennials, soon to be the largest segment in the workplace, are especially at risk. For them, major depression rose by 31 percent from 2014 to 2017, becoming more prevalent than hyperactivity and type 2 diabetes.1 Employers have a vested interest in getting employees of all ages the help they need and are beginning to add or expand mental health and behavioral solutions. Mental Health Issues Reduce Employee Productivity and Cost Employers Money The cost of direct mental health treatment, at $26 billion, might seem like a lot of money. But that amount is nowhere near what employers pay for mental health-related absenteeism, estimated at $51 billion.2 And you can’t ignore the impact mental or behavioral health conditions have on overall health and wellbeing, which directly affect how able and engaged employees are at work. The Need for Mental Health Support Spurs Innovative Solutions Serious mental health conditions like major depression affect up to one in 10 Michiganders, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. A majority of employers already offer t2elebehavioral health services, allowing employees to speak with an emotional health coach right away. Telehealth is ideal for millennials because they’re much more likely to use technology to interact with the healthcare system in general.4 Employees who live in “mental health deserts” or are uncomfortable walking into a therapist’s office can also benefit from an online or virtual visit with a mental health provider. Blue Cross Online Visits provides virtual private and confidential therapy and psychiatry choices to most Blue Cross PPO members and Blue Care Network HMO members. Caring and knowledgeable behavioral health professional such as psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists, are available by smartphone, tablet or computer. Talk with them, from where you’re most comfortable, about life’s challenges, including anxiety, grief or depression. Appointments are available, including at night and on weekends. Most Americans with Major Depression Also Have One or More Serious Chronic Health Conditions Learn more about the intersection of behavioral health and opioid use disorder here. Making Behavioral and Mental Health Innovations Work for Your Organization When adopting innovations to help your employees manage stress or mental health conditions, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Take mental health seriously. Consider it to be just as important as other medical conditions.
- Help remove the stigma of getting help by educating your employees and being open about mental health conditions. If your company offers Blue Cross Online Visits, promote it in company newsletters, text messages, emails and on your intranet. Senior executives could consider including a message on how to contact mental health services in their internal email signature.
- Promote better mental health in your work environment. Consider healthy food and drink options, free exercise classes, meditation or stress reduction training, and if possible, flexible work hours.
Want to learn more? Download mental health resources for your employees here. 1 Blue Cross and Blue Shield, The Health of America, “The Health of Millennials,” April 24, 2019. 2 Mental Health of America, “Depression in the Workplace,” 2019, https://www.mhanational.org/depression-workplace, accessed October 15, 2019. Photo credit: Prostock-Studio