Employee Behavioral Health: Importance and EAP Issues

Offering quality health benefits to employees continues to be a vital part of attracting and retaining talent for businesses across the country, and one particular area that’s only increasing in importance and attention here is behavioral health, or mental health. Mental health coverage is just as important as physical health coverage for many people these days, and employers need to be sure they’re not only offering good programs here, but have taken the time to make optimal selections.

At Nielsen Benefits Group, we’re happy to assist clients with all their employee insurance and benefits needs, from health plan analytics and strategic assessments of your coverage to cultural transformations, compliance services and more. In this two-part blog series, we’re going to cover everything you should know about behavioral health coverage for your employees – why it’s important, the issues with certain cookie-cutter programs that are sometimes used here, and what to look for in a great provider of mental health benefits as you give proper attention to this area.

employee behavioral health importance

Why Behavioral Health Coverage is So Important

Some research has indicated that mental illness costs US employers in excess of $100 billion every single year, and a big part of this is due to disruption in the workplace, lost productivity, unplanned absences and more. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your employees have access to quality mental health services – without proper coverage here, they may be able to get some help but certainly not all they need.

Lost productivity is a key factor here, as employees who are struggling with mental health issues often have a difficult time staying focused and productive at work. They may feel overwhelmed, burned out or anxious – all of which can significantly impact their performance. By ensuring they have access to quality behavioral health services, you can give them the help they need while also avoiding this loss in productivity.

And on the positive side, there are many pieces of research showing that companies who offer robust mental health benefits tend to have higher levels of employee engagement, better morale and improved productivity.

Issues With EAPs

Some employers look to programs called EAPs, or employee assistance programs, as a mental health supplement. These may offer some basic resources like counseling and support that extend beyond normal healthcare plans.

However, these programs have some significant issues:

  • Under-utilization: Under 10% of employees typically utilize EAPs due to their limited availability and lack of promotion.
  • Limited Coverage: EAPs only offer short-term services that may not be enough for more severe mental health issues.
  • Outdated Resources: The resources included in most EAPs are often outdated and don’t reflect the latest advancements in mental health care.

As a result, it’s often recommended that you avoid EAPs for mental health coverage – and instead, work with providers of full policies that can be included in overall health benefits plans.

In part two of our series, we’ll go over what to look for in a great behavioral health coverage plan and provider. For more on this, or to learn about any of our employee benefits services, speak to our team at Nielsen Benefits Group today.