Last week at the National Business Group on Health’s Workforce Strategy 2018 conference, Big Health was privileged to host a panel discussion on employee mental health with innovative health & well-being leaders from Google, The Hartford, and Comcast.  

The Discussion 

Innovative Approaches to Engage Employees on Mental Health

The Panel 

  • Tanya Benenson, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Comcast
  • Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., Wellness Program Manager, Google
  • Judy Gordon, Wellness Director, The Hartford
  • Moderator: Dickon Waterfield, Chief Commercial Officer, Big Health

Here were some of our key takeaways from the session:

Mental health is a top priority area for health & well-being leaders

  • 1 in 5 people suffer from a common mental health condition like insomnia, anxiety, or depression
  • Many chronic health conditions are exacerbated by mental health conditions, driving even higher medical costs. Employee mental health costs are also rising twice as fast as medical costs, according to a CNBC article published last week
  • As such, these companies see mental health is seen as foundational to employee health & well-being and an integral part of any comprehensive well-being strategy

Effectively addressing mental health is challenging due to multiple barriers

  • Approximately 70% of those suffering go untreated; low awareness, stigma, and poor access are all barriers to people seeking and receiving help
  • The panelists found that sleep and stress were examples of areas where they could engage employees and start making an impact immediately while working on raising awareness and tackling stigma
  • Other innovative approaches, such as embedding behavioral health in primary care clinics, fostering employee-led peer support groups, and delivering mental health awareness training, were all discussed as ways to tackle these barriers

There is no one solution that can address all aspects of mental health:

  • Mental health is a complex area that requires a variety of resources
  • Traditional resources like EAP and behavioral health via carriers continue to have an important role to play in providing effective help
  • However more needs to be done to provide individuals with services that meet them where they are in their journey to better mental health, whether that be digital self-help, peer support, or better access to in-person care
  • Integration of these services to provide employees with the right care at the right time is critical to delivering effective, affordable, and accessible care
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