Push for brokers to make mental health services accessible | BenefitsPRO

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Benefits brokers, take notice: If you can offer a benefits package that includes a robust mental health component, human resources managers want to talk to you.

That’s one of the takeaways from a recent study by Uprise Health. The company, which provides digitally-enabled EAP and mental health resources for employers, wanted to find out if employees were being connected with mental health services through their plans. A survey of 543 U.S.-based HR leaders at firms with 100 or more employees indicates they need help from their brokers, and their employers, to meet employee demand for such services.

The access issue is huge today due to the spike in demand for mental health treatment in the wake of the pandemic. Nearly half (43%) of respondents cite employee complaints related to finding services and getting appointments, even when such services were included in the benefits package. But a substantial number of employers (35%) don’t include any mental health and wellness benefits, the report says.

Related: What benefit pros need to know about expanding mental health coverage

Many respondents said they look to their benefits consultants to identify ways to improve access to mental health care. But more than a third say their broker had “not helped their company provide more ways for employees to access care for mental health, wellbeing, and chronic illnesses.”

Given that level of dissatisfaction with the broker’s services, more than half of respondents said they are considering switching brokers in the next year. “Of those likely to change their benefits professional, 38% said they are looking for more communication, responsiveness, proactivity, and a ‘consultative approach,’” the report says.

Other survey results included:

  • 32% say their benefits professional has not proactively suggested offering employees enhanced mental health and wellbeing benefits or support since the start of the pandemic.
  • 49% say they talk with their benefits professional about options and services less frequently than monthly.
  • 30% say their benefits professional hasn’t been helpful identifying options to help employees with chronic illnesses.
  • 51% of HR leaders say that providing employees with access to nontraditional benefits, like mental health and wellness, was a top challenge.
  • 31% say their company doesn’t provide enough mental health and wellness support to keep employees productive and healthy.
  • 52% say that concerns about access to mental health for employees’ teenaged children have become more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 32% say their benefits professional has not proactively suggested offering employees enhanced mental health and wellbeing benefits or support since the start of the pandemic.
  • 49% say they talk with their benefits professional about options and services less frequently than monthly.
  • 30% say their benefits professional hasn’t been helpful identifying options to help employees with chronic illnesses.

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