Employers offering designated mental health days in U.S. could triple in next three years

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Two out of three U.S. employers (67%) plan to make employee mental health and emotional wellbeing programmes and solutions one of their top three health priorities over the next three years.

Additionally, the number of employers that intend to offer designated mental health days could triple from 9% currently to 30% in the next two years. This is according to a survey by global advisory, broking and solutions company WTW (NASDAQ: WTW).

Tele-behavioural health moves mainstream

Nearly all survey respondents (88%) took measures to address workforce mental health needs this year. Telehealth increased dramatically during the pandemic, and tele-behavioural health services was the top strategy employers utilised to address employee mental health issues.

Eight out of 10 employers (83%) offered tele-behavioural health this year, and another 9% are considering or are planning to offer it in the next two years.

Extending employee assistance programmes

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are another critical component of employers’ wellbeing offerings. While virtually all employers offer traditional EAPs, seven in 10 (69%) provide dedicated onsite or virtual EAP resources. Additionally, one in four employers (24%) are planning to increase their EAP benefits in the next three years.

Erin Terkoski Young, senior director for WTW’s Health, Equity & Wellbeing practice said:

“COVID-19 took a terrible toll on employees’ lives, including substantially worsening mental health. Although the pandemic may have started to wane, mental health challenges persist. Taking mental health programs to the next level won’t be easy, but employers that succeed will see improvement in productivity, retention and engagement.”

Three year plan

The survey of 455 U.S. employers revealed several emotional wellbeing strategies employers have in place or are planning or considering deploying in the next three years.

  • More than four in 10 employers (44%) currently provide manager training, such as general mental health awareness or identification and intervention training. Another 30% are planning or considering this training in the next two years.
  • Nearly four in 10 employers (38%) are partnering with employee resource groups to address population-specific mental health issues. Another 27% are planning or considering doing so.
  • Two-thirds of employers (68%) currently offer digital behavioural health support. An additional 16% are planning or considering providing access to digital behavioural health support in the next two years.
  • One in six employers (17%) are evaluating cultural competencies within the behavioural health provider network. Another 27% are planning or considering doing so.

Commenting on these statistics, Young said:

“Employers are highly focused on supporting the mental health of their employees, especially as they look to retain and engage talent. Those that prioritize employee mental health and increase access to virtual and digital solutions will be uniquely positioned to improve their ability to deliver much-needed care.”

About the survey

A total of 455 U.S. employers participated in the 2022 Best Practices in Health Care Survey, which was conducted in August 2022. Respondents employ 8.2 million workers.

WTW (NASDAQ: WTW) provides data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital – helping organisations to sharpen their strategy, enhance organisational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximize performance. Learn more at wtwco.com.

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