4 Key Considerations in Choosing a Digital Mental Health Program for Your Employees 

Employee Mental Health Challenges

The occurrence of stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, substance abuse, and other mental health problems has grown significantly over the past few years due to the pandemic and the accompanying isolation, uncertainty, and loss. However, even as the number of people suffering from some sort of mental health issue has ballooned, only 1 in 4 will seek out in-person therapy.  

Accessing mental health care can be challenging for many employees due to inflexible schedules, prohibitive costs, and social stigma. According to a 2022 Retail Associates Mental Health Report, 40% stated that their mental health had worsened over the past year and only 45% think their manager cares about them. Another report published in 2022 by Mercer titled “Rethinking What We Need from Work” found that employees considering leaving their job cited insufficient health care benefits among the top three reasons. That same report found that low-income workers are twice as concerned about covering monthly expenses including mental and emotional support. 

The Cost of Poor Mental Health and Employee Well-being

The impact of the pandemic and the subsequent “Great Resignation” has put a spotlight on retention and employee satisfaction for many employers. And the latest trend of “Quiet Quitting” (doing the minimum at work) is further highlighting the importance of employee engagement for productivity. Employers who do not support employee well-being and provide easy access to mental health care are incurring significant costs and far-reaching impacts, including: 

  • Reduced productivity  
  • Increased absenteeism 
  • Decreased satisfaction 
  • Issues with emotional health 
  • Unnecessary medical costs including emergency department visits

It’s difficult to know the exact cost, but a recent Gallup survey estimated that the economic impact of lost productivity alone is $48 billion annually. 

Finding the Right Solution for You and Your Employees

An important priority to employees is having access to mental health care, but selecting the right solution can be challenging. Employers can ask these four important questions to ensure the program is used, meets the needs of your employee population, and delivers a strong ROI. 

Will the program be easily and widely accessible? Your staff may find that employee assistance programs (EAP) and in-person therapy are not the right solution for them. These options often have a limited scope of service or may be intimidating and logistically challenging. Your team members are more likely to take advantage of a program that is accessible online, can be self-guided and self-paced, and provides one-on-one clinician coaching, if desired. A mental wellness journey that is accessible online enables users to engage with the content and coaching at their own pace, and find the program that is right for them.  

Will the program deliver results? Digital mental health services hold the promise of expanding access and coverage, but they must also be effective in producing measurable results. Over twenty years of clinical research has shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be as effective as face-to-face CBT, offering a clear path to address the unmet need for mental health at scale. Organizations should expect to realize meaningful outcomes: 

  • 6x greater likelihood to engage in digital mental health programs than alternative options 
  • 30% improvement in psychometrics measures 
  • 46% of users with clinically diagnosable conditions show improvement and a reduction in the signs and symptoms of mental illness to subclinical levels 
  • 95% of users report achieving their personal goals 
  • 68% of users reported Learn to Live programs improved their ability to be productive at work or school 
  • 83% of users had more positive feelings toward their employers 

Will the program encompass an array of issues employees may be facing? A comprehensive mental health program should support common behavioral health problems like depression, social anxiety, stress and worry, panic, substance use, and insomnia. Employees may also be interested in learning more about resilience to help them bounce back from life’s challenges and build strength through healthy habits and relationships. 

Does the program include tools, collateral, messaging, and support to ensure success of the program? While many employers offer a behavioral health benefit, they may not achieve meaningful levels of employee engagement due to several factors, but a primary one is awareness of the program. Look for a mental health program vendor that provides service beyond the initial implementation to assist with ongoing communications strategies including email content, promotional collateral, and wellness articles and webinars. Engagement rates will be higher and more easily sustained if employees are aware of the program and the great benefits of embracing their own mental health care. 

Mental health is a growing concern and societal pressures are persisting from war abroad to inflation and economic challenges at home. Give your employees access to the holistic care they need to navigate life’s challenges and thrive at work. 

Interested in learning more? Download a fact sheet featuring strategies to support employee mental health.