The majority of large employers report seeing the impact of increased mental health issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s according to the Business Group on Health’s 2024 Large Employer Healthcare Strategy Survey, which included responses from 152 employers representing 19 million covered lives.
Seventy-seven percent of employers said that they are seeing an increase in mental health needs as one of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 16% of employers anticipate seeing an increase in mental health needs in the future.
“Our survey found that in 2024 and for the near future, employers will be acutely focused on addressing employees’ mental health needs while ensuring access and lowering cost barriers,” Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of Business Group on Health, said in a statement. “Companies will need to creatively and deftly navigate these and other challenges in the coming year, especially as they remain committed to providing high-quality health and well-being offerings while managing overall costs.”
Looking ahead to 2024, 77% of employers said they focused on improving mental health access. The most popular way employers said they would increase access to care is through online resources, such as apps, articles and webinars.
Additionally, 63% of employers plan to work with their health plan and other vendors to expand their mental health access.
Virtual care continues to be top of mind for employers. Seventy percent of employers said they offer no- or low-cost virtual counseling through telehealth services.
Employers are also looking to expand access by covering out-of-network treatment for mental health or substance use disorder services and offering no- or low-cost on-site mental health counselors.
Employer interest in digital behavioral health products has grown since the COVID-19 pandemic, and point solutions have taken note. More and more digital providers offer products specifically designed to cater to the B2B market. For example, Headspace Health, Talkspace and Pelago have all prioritized their employer contracts.