Playing the Mental Health Long Game

Employers continue to invest in the mental health and well-being of their employees and their families through programs to support front-line workers and dependents as well as programs that create a supportive work environment.


May 21, 2024

Supporting employees’ mental and emotional well-being has been a long-standing priority for employers. But despite progress in offering a comprehensive suite of benefits, 77% of employer respondents to the 2024 Large Employer Health Care Strategy Survey still saw increased levels of mental health needs (e.g., burnout, depression, substance use) in 2023, with another 16% anticipating an increase in the future. During this year’s annual conference, employers and their industry partners highlighted how employers continue to invest in mental health and well-being to meet these needs. Key areas of focus included reaching frontline workers, addressing pediatric mental health, improving the workplace in support of mental health and using tools to make point-in-time connections to employer mental health resources. Read on for actionable ideas.

How Employers Are Addressing Mental Health Needs in the Workplace

  • Connecting employees to resources quickly through navigation: Leading employers are leveraging navigation programs to seamlessly connect patients with appropriate mental health benefits, from helping employees make appointments with clinicians to accessing other types of offerings, including coaching and self-service modules. Incorporating mental health support into a larger number of program offerings targeting different groups of members, such as mental health support within a comprehensive cancer solution, is a strategy that helps employers reach members in different ways at their time of need.
  • Supporting frontline workers through the power of managers: To support the mental health of frontline workers, employers are turning to managers to connect employees with the resources they need. Employers are implementing customized mental health training to provide managers and supervisors with guidance on how to create a positive work environment and become more knowledgeable about relevant benefits and programs, preparing them to recommend appropriate resources when employees are experiencing challenges.
  • Identifying and addressing workplace risk factors: Employers shared their efforts to complement their mental health benefits and programs with a focus on improving the work experience. Addressing “psychosocial hazards”- risk factors in the workplace that can lead to poor mental health -- such as low job control, lack of clarity about roles or lack of recognition, allows organizations to create a foundation for positive mental health and increase the chances of programs and benefits being successful. These risk factors can be present in varied forms within an organization and can manifest differently in other countries and worksite locations.

Strategies Employers Can Use to Address Mental Health Needs

  • Ensure that financial barriers do not keep people from seeking care: Reduce financial barriers to accessing mental health services, whether through an EAP, virtual care services or by connecting employees to services in the community. Ensuring that employees can access needed care will have significant downstream impacts on absence, productivity and health care costs.
  • Train leaders on how to support employee mental health: Leaders at all levels must understand how to support employees with mental health challenges. This can range from how to reduce psychosocial risk factors to appropriate ways to direct employees to available benefits and programs.
  • Ensure that mental health strategies include the pediatric population: The mental health needs of the pediatric population are broad and varied, presenting a particularly thorny challenge and significant opportunity. Because parents often have difficulty understanding when and how to seek care for their kids, providing benefits and support services is critical to helping the whole family.

Relevant Resources

2025 AC Save the date

2024 Annual Conference Insights: Playing the Mental Health Long Game

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