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Mental Health Employee Benefits: How Much is a Lack of Coverage Costing Healthcare Providers

By Carol Benson | Posted Feb 21 | Blog

How much is a lack of mental health employee benefits options costing those employee benefits providers? As we move farther into 2020, the issues of behavioral health and wellness, in relation to benefits coverage, have come to the forefront of the industry dialogue. Leadership and commitment are needed to improve the conversation around mental health and the services provided to maintain employee wellness.

The Financial Toll

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that the major mental illness costs the United States at least 193 billion dollars each year in lost earnings alone, not including the potential work lost while those suffering are on the clock. The American Psychiatric Foundation advises that untreated mental illness costs companies an average of 44 billion dollars in lost productivity due to untreated depression alone. This does not include the host of diseases and disorders that could disrupt and debilitate untreated employees within the national labor force.  

Untreated mental health issues increase work-related risks, increasing accident probability, adding to potential workman’s compensation and disability status declarations. Workplace violence claims of harassment and discrimination all increase costs related to an employee’s untreated and unwell metal state. Early intervention is expressly connected to the availability of early treatment and intervention options. These are key to reducing these costs associated with mental illness and are, in turn, very good for business. 

Reducing Risk

According to the CDC, nearly one in five adults age 18 or older reported some form of mild illness in 2016. In the same study, 71 percent of adults reported at least some symptoms of stress, including headache or anxiety. Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employee job performance and productivity, engagement, communication with coworkers, physical ability and everyday function. 

Depression can reduce cognitive performance by 35 percent, and according to the same CDC research, of the employees surveyed who reported mild to more significant depression, only 57 percent received any kind of treatment. The study also found that depression posed the highest health care cost even when compared to obesity and smoking. 

Mental health employee benefits are not the only key to saving money associated with the lack of precious and productive work hours. Proper care of the individual has been shown to aid in helping employee investment in your organization. The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions found that more comprehensive coverage for mental healthcare could return 4 dollars for every dollar spent. 

Mental Health Employee Benefits Options

The same report found that behavioral healthcare was four to six times more likely to be provided out of a supported network that medical or surgical care, which meant many affected employees had to pay for this costly care out of pocket, making the treatment inaccessible for many of them. Employers could make this process easier by offering programs that connect employees with mental healthcare benefits providers who are within their network, vetted for the quality and readily accepting new patients. 

Increasing the robustness of these healthcare networks and the wellness options offered in benefits packages is not only a financial imperative, but it is also a matter of social responsibility. Workplaces are the optimal starting point for increased mental health awareness and prevention. Communication structures are already in place, policies and programs come from one central team, social support networks are already available, employers can offer incentives to reinforce more desirable healthy behaviors and use employee data to track. 

As employee benefits recruitment specialists, we have the continuing opportunity to place the future leadership of the industry. The dialogue surrounding mental health employee benefits is one we need to be involved in. Not only will the proper application of benefits related care benefit the clients of our clients, but in the long run, it will save employer, the progress of implemented programs as well as gauge their effectiveness. Provider and employee time, money and improve quality of life all around. 


At CBR Search Specialists, we keep ahead of industry trends and provide that talent ready to handle present and future challenges surrounding the Employee Benefits and Health Insurance spheres.

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