Shortlister hosted CuraLinc’s President, Sean Fogarty, joined by Dave Pawlowski, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Sales, Lesley Miller. The CuraLinc team discussed a topic that seems to be on the mind of many organizations and their advisors nowadays: what are the critical components of an effective workforce mental health solution?
THE LANDSCAPE OF WORKFORCE MENTAL HEALTH IS EVOLVING
As plan sponsors and advisors seek the ideal blend of services and features to meet employees’ increasing appetite for mental health support, they are surrounded by more questions than answers, such as: Which metrics are meaningful? How important is crisis support, both individually and organizationally? What’s a blended care plan? Do employees prefer in-person, telebehavioral, or digital care? Should a workforce mental health program provide both counseling and coaching?
SEVEN INGREDIENTS TO AN EFFECTIVE WORKFORCE MENTAL HEALTH SOLUTION
According to CuraLinc, the fundamental elements of a mental health solution that caters to today’s workforce include:
IMMEDIATE CLINICAL SUPPORT
One component of a workforce mental health program essential to supporting employee mental health in the world we live and work in today is access to immediate clinical support.
Although most employees who use a workforce mental health program aren’t in crisis, the percentage who are has risen to levels we’ve never seen before – even higher than we saw just a few years ago.
- 14.0 – Increased rate of suicides per 100,000 people; the highest increase is males between 15 and 24 (CDC)
- 45% – Crisis calls to the National Suicide Hotline increased by 45% since mid-2021 (HHS)
For these folks, access to immediate clinical support can help prevent the type of tragic scenarios that can unfold when an employee feels like they have nowhere else to turn.
PERSONALIZED ACCESS TO ONGOING TREATMENT
Ensuring every user can connect to care in a personal and meaningful way is of the utmost importance. Workforce mental health providers must empower choices in modality and discipline to meet all employees’ needs and preferences.
- Different modalities and disciplines to choose from – A system of convenient and integrated avenues into the program and stigma-reducing disciplines that extend the care footprint, such as coaching, anonymous group support, and dCBT.
- Choice of provider based on preference – Age, race, gender, LGBTQIA+, religion, date/time availability, in-person or video.
- Meaningful connectivity – No predetermined entry point, personalized guidance to the ideal modality, discipline, and ability to schedule care online.
TRUE MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY
Even with all the innovation and options in the mental health space, too many gaps exist between accessibility and the ultimate delivery of mental health care in the landscape of employer-sponsored mental health.
As an advisor or employer, you should look for the following:
- Advocacy over provider network size
- Timely connection to the ideal provider
- Active case management
HOLISTIC, PERSON-CENTRIC CARE
Every employee is unique – and so are their mental health needs. Workforce mental health programs must support concerns that range in scope, severity, and urgency.
To ensure their chosen program can support the unique needs of all employees, CuraLinc strongly encourages employers and advisors to evaluate providers carefully on their ability to provide end-to-end care. Clinical and sub-clinical resources, specialized resources, referrals, and evidence-based care are necessary when searching for a mental health provider.
By 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group. A culturally competent workforce mental health provider serves underrepresented populations by:
- Increasing access to care and reducing stigma
- Improving treatment outcomes
- Addressing mental health disparities
- Helping organizations improve their DEI initiatives and policies
- Assisting employees to cope and stay productive in times of social, political, or civil unrest
FULLY INTEGRATED CARE SYSTEM
Treatment modalities or disciplines delivered by third-party providers may extend the footprint of care, but integration challenges create:
- Care gaps
- Treatment disruption
- Misaligned objectives between providers
- More work for HR/benefits
Beyond internal modality and discipline integration from the provider, external integration with an employer’s other health management and benefits programs is also essential.
Employers should look for a services checklist to know what is provided in-house vs. outsourced, a documented innovation roadmap, and an external integration strategy, so they know how the service will integrate with other benefits available to support employees.
EAP and digital providers typically use utilization rates, referrals to external resources, satisfaction surveys, and website visitors as metrics to illustrate their ability to engage employees.
But while these measurements are practical tools to evaluate engagement or the program’s reach, they don’t truly measure the program’s impact on employee health, well-being, and productivity.
Employers these days are investing more in mental health resources for their employees than ever before, so CuraLinc suggests looking for the following:
- Case resolution – What percent of cases are resolved within the EAP?
- Clinical outcomes – Percent improved or recovered according to clinically-validated tools and assessments (PHQ-9, SPS-6, WOS, GAD-7, AUDIT) and peer-reviewed studies.
- Satisfaction – Both with their provider and the service overall through a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.
- Return on investment – Focusing on health care, human capital, and organizational costs.