Report: Employers to make mental health and wellbeing a top priority

Companies now offering designated mental health days to help employees

Mental health is becoming a greater priority for U.S. employers, according to a new report from global advisory firm WTW. The survey of 455 major employers found that67% of U.S. employers plan to make employee mental health and emotional wellbeing programs and solutions one of their top three health priorities over the next three years. The number of employers offering designated mental health days could triple from 9% currently to 30% in the next two years.

The vast majority of survey respondents (88%) did something to address workforce mental health needs this year, with 83% offering tele-behavioral health this year and another 9% considering it for the next two years. While virtually all employers offer traditional employee assistance programs, 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.

“COVID-19 took a terrible toll on employees’ lives, including substantially worsening mental health,” said Erin Terkoski Young, senior director for WTW’s Health, Equity & Wellbeing practice, in a statement. “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.”

The survey 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 behavioral health support. An additional 16% are planning or considering providing access to digital behavioral health support in the next two years.
  • One in six employers (17%) are evaluating cultural competencies within the behavioral health provider network. Another 27% are planning or considering doing so.

“Employers are highly focused on supporting the mental health of their employees, especially as they look to retain and engage talent,” said Young. “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.”

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