Pension & Benefits News Mental health coverage on the rise, IFEBP survey finds
Friday, October 25, 2019

Mental health coverage on the rise, IFEBP survey finds

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

Mental health benefit offerings are on the rise according to Workplace Wellness Trends, a recent survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Since 2014, there's been a 26 percent increase in organizations offering mental health coverage, with nearly 90 percent of organizations offering this benefit in 2019. This year, 21 percent of organizations reported it as one of their most costly conditions—a 50 percent increase from 2014.

"Our society as a whole is increasingly more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues, and that way of thinking is making its way into the workplace. Now, more organizations are making strides to provide better support systems for employees facing mental health challenges and including mental health as part of their overall workplace wellness plan," said Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation. "Increased programs and options equate to higher costs but, for most organizations, it's worth the trade-off for a healthier, safer and more productive workforce."

The top offerings for mental health initiatives at U.S. organizations include the following:

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs): 90 percent;
  • Mental health coverage: 87 percent;
  • Substance abuse treatment coverage/benefits: 73 percent;
  • Mental health assessment included in health risk assessment (HRA): 35 percent;
  • Mental health educational/informational sessions at the workplace: 34 percent;
  • Stress management program: 23 percent; and
  • On-site mindfulness/meditation classes: 23 percent.

Also notable is that workplaces are continuing to offer mental health first aid/crisis training, which equips employees with the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse. This training is made available by 15 percent of organizations.

The growing emphasis on mental health coverage could be attributed to heightened levels of worker stress. The majority (72%) of employers listed stress as the top issue negatively impacting workplace productivity.

Success in reducing employee stress is a work in progress for many organizations.

"At this point, it seems as though workplaces have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels," said Stich. "Almost 70% of organizations report that their efforts have been somewhat effective in reducing work-related stress, but only 4% reported 'very effective' results."

Despite this, most organizations plan to either increase (68%) or maintain (32%) their emphasis on mental health offerings over the next two years, Stich added.


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