Viewpoints from Claire Letourneau

As we entered 2020, wellness consultants started seeing interest from clients in “mindfulness and meditation” programs. We were excited by the prospect that employers might be ready to address a new dimension of wellness… “mental health.” Then, COVID-19 happened, and just as quickly as the virus spreads, clients started asking by name for “mental health resources.” 

2020 has been a rough year for most.

I saw a post on Instagram yesterday from a friend who’d been bitten by a dog. His caption read, “2020 Strikes Again ☹.” He posted a video at 7:30 this morning of jackhammers drilling into the street outside of his home, and his caption read, “2020 Strikes Again ☹☹.” When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “my cats are literally my lifeline.” While his coping mechanism seems to be working for him, an increasing number of people are experiencing difficult times – and they’re not sure where to turn.

Now that employers are seeing the impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, and employee health from the anxiety and depression brought on by side effects of COVID (social isolation, fear, lack of exercise, exhaustion) we were curious what steps our clients were taking to address them.

Our recent Mental Health and Wellbeing Pulse Survey had some fascinating results.

What we found most interesting is that, despite clients clamoring for resources and behavioral health vendor information, those who responded did not demonstrate a significant shift in their budgeting or services for mental health offerings. Of clients that ask, we can see employees are reporting a need for mental health programming. However, most clients don’t have the budgets available to implement new services, they do not formally survey employees to assess the need, and few have shifted what resources are available. Most respondents rely on their medical carrier’s coverage and their EAP’s limited resources to help employees – both of which are notoriously underutilized.

Here are some of the findings:
  • 63% of respondents noted that their company has focused on mental health initiatives
  • 32% are (or will) offer new wellness challenges, which means about 72% of respondents will offer this type of programming
  • 45% of respondents will offer resiliency coaching programming (such as Headspace, Calm, and other apps), and 50% will offer some form of lifestyle coaching that addresses topics like weight and stress management
  • 85% of respondents will offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • 44% of respondents do not budget for mental health programming and only 8% have increased their budget to meet the new demand of 2020
  • Nearly 60% of respondents do not measure the extent of mental health concerns among employees, with only 22% doing so by surveying employees directly
  • Almost 70% of respondents do not evaluate the level of financial stress on employees, with only 19% surveying employees directly
  • For clients that do survey their employees, 45% of respondents report an increase in employee requests for mental health programming, 0% report a decrease, and 16% report that it stayed the same
Mental health may be more than just 2020’s hot topic, but companies are not willing or able to invest in new and more dynamic offerings.

On the bright side, some respondents have a good definition of what’s necessary to make a real impact on employees’ emotional wellbeing: “a comprehensive program providing services for counseling, therapy, anxiety, psychiatric medications, as well as education on mitigating stressors and anxieties.” Hopefully, decision-makers direct the funds and support for this type of program in the future. I’m looking at you, 2021!

Our Wellness & Health Management team is always here to help. View the full survey results and stay tuned for future EPIC Wellness Pulse Surveys.

 

Check out more of our EPIC Resources:

Visit the EPIC coronavirus update center for COVID-19 information

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See results from our In It Together pulse surveys on our COVID-19 strategic collaboration and idea-sharing forum

 

EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.

 

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ClaireLetourneau-ContactTile
Claire Letourneau

Senior Account Executive, Wellness – New York, NY