Investment in Behavioral Health Isn’t Matching Interest from Consumers

The importance of mental health to one’s overall health continues to be affirmed by the rising demand for services. However, there remains a disconnect between investment in behavioral health and a consumer’s interest in it, according to a newly released report.

The findings were part of an overall survey conducted by Evernoth – which is a division of health insurer Cigna (NYSE: CI) – and polling company Ipsos that looked at ways to drive change within health care. More than 3,000 consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance were surveyed, along with 575 human resources decision-makers (HRDMs) and 58 health plan leaders (HPLs).

Overall, 52% of consumers believe that promoting work-life balance should be the primary support benefit from their employers, which was tops among all requested support options of the group. Conversely, only 25% of HRDMs say that their organizations provided it, with only 12% of HPLs offering it.

Consumers, HRDMs and HPLs identifying their top behavioral health benefit priorities. (Source: Evernorth)

The disconnect between consumers and their employers also extends to the level of satisfaction over behavioral support given to workers. While 66% report being satisfied with the support and benefits received from employers, only 21% said they were “very satisfied,” with 17% reporting dissatisfaction.

All may not be lost, however, when it comes to consumers and employers finding some common ground, particularly with whole-person care.

The report noted that 53% of consumers agreed that employers should provide benefits for whole-person health. Additionally, almost a quarter of HRDMs surveyed said that they anticipate their organization’s priorities shifting to focus on whole-person health and wellness needs.


Whole-person care approaches – which combine behavioral health with primary care services – have been increasingly touted as a way to deliver better health outcomes at less expense. According to McKinsey & Company, $185 billion in annual health care costs can be saved by providing whole-person care through a variety of means.

“Whole-person health seems to be the best common ground—the best starting point for harmonizing the two perspectives,” the authors of the report stated, while claiming that doing so will “[bring] consumers and employers much closer together.”

Consumers also prioritized hybrid health care solutions that integrate virtual and in-person services, with 75% agreeing that more future care will be provided by virtual delivery. Virtual services also have a particular bearing on behavioral health care, as estimates for the digital sector of the market have it growing to over $800 billion by 2027. The bullish outlook on telebehavioral health is further underscored by a recently released report, which showed that telehealth claims in December 2021 for behavioral health continued to represent the highest claim line of all diagnoses.

The feasibility of behavioral health to telehealth – compared to physical health – was also highlighted by the authors of the Evernorth/Ipsos report as bottom-lining the need for hybrid, whole-person care.

“While some types of care are ideal for virtual settings—such as primary care and behavioral health— specialties requiring more physical interaction and/or examination are less so, including physical therapy,” the report said. “This suggests the need for a hybrid approach to deliver optimal care for consumers in the future.”

You can view the report here.

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