50 million Americans live with mental illness, yet over half of them do not have the mental health coverage to receive care and treatment they need. To combat the urgent need for better support, more health plans and companies are providing access to convenient, virtual mental health benefits. This trend shows no sign of slowing. Mental health benefits are a must-have for top companies to attract and retain talent, especially for employees who are starting and raising their families.
How can you ensure the mental health benefits offered to parents and parents-to-be improves overall health outcomes and lowers costs? The key lies in providing expanding specialized mental health care. Here’s how it makes a difference.
The current state of mental health benefits
Nine out of 10 adults believe the U.S. is experiencing a mental health crisis, according to a survey by CNN. The aftereffects of the pandemic, shifting reproductive health restrictions, and economic anxiety all take a toll on employees’ and members’ mental health.
Despite the growing need for support, more than 150 million people live in federally designated mental health professional shortage areas. Estimates from the Behavioral Health Workforce show that more than half of U.S. counties don’t have a single psychiatrist.
The growing trend: Employers & health plans stepping up to offer mental health services
The benefits of expanding mental health coverage abounds. A Forrester survey found that nearly three-quarters of employees are more likely to stay at a company that provides high-quality mental health benefits. Another report from the Steinburg Institute highlighted the cost-saving benefits of addressing employee mental health needs: For every $1 investment in prevention and early intervention for mental health issues, health plans and employers see $2 to $10 in savings.
Expanding access to care is essential, and much of the impetus for change rests on employers and health plans. AHIP estimates that one in four Americans access mental health services through their company’s health insurance, meaning that employers and health plans have the opportunity to work together to provide better mental health benefits for employees and members.
In recent years, more and more companies and health plans have heard the call to increase access to mental health resources and taken steps to connect members and employees to the care they need.
“Health insurance providers are committed to working together to improve access to mental health support for every covered patient who needs it,” says Matt Eyles, AHIP President and CEO, in a recent report.
Making a difference with digital mental health support for employees and members
While many health plans currently offer some level of access to mental health resources, many members and employees with mental health issues still struggle to actually meet with a provider. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only one in five employers reported being satisfied with the availability of mental health providers in their provider networks. In the same study, 23% said they asked their insurers to increase access to in-network mental health benefits.
Without in-network mental health benefits, many are forced to pay out-of-pocket for mental health treatment, which can cost from between $100-$200 per session. Some employers offer a health savings account to offset costs, while others turn to an employee assistance program. However, neither of these solutions address the full spectrum of employee and member needs.
Improving member and employee mental health with third-party benefits
To improve access to mental health care beyond their existing network, more health plans and employers are turning to third-party benefit providers offering virtual access to psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. In 2021, nearly 40% of Americans reported using telehealth services to meet with a medical or mental health provider, and 60% reported they’d use telehealth services for mental health appointments.
Digital mental health care not only makes it possible to get care for mental health challenges anywhere, but it also increases access to providers, as geography no longer limits the providers available to employees and members.
How mental health benefits for employees and members can support the family journey
While employees and members benefit from improved mental health throughout their lives, many seek extra support while they’re starting and raising their families. Here’s how an employee mental health benefit makes a difference along the family journey.
Improving health outcomes for birthing parents & babies
While up to one in five birthing parents experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), they are the most underdiagnosed, untreated, and common complication of childbirth. PMADs are associated with poor overall health outcomes for new parents and babies, which can drive up healthcare costs.
For instance, pregnant people who experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are more likely to deliver preterm or by C-section, which carry significantly higher costs, and people who experience postpartum depression incur 90% higher healthcare costs than those who don’t. Ensuring birthing parents have access to mental health specialists who support common mental health concerns like postpartum depression is critical to filling these gaps and lowering costs.
Helping employees and members navigate fertility treatments
Fertility treatments can be extremely distressing—people with infertility are shown to have the same stress levels as those with cancer and heart disease. While providing financial support for fertility care is a critical component for your employees, focusing on the emotional aspect is just as important. Clinical studies indicate that stress can impact the chances of conception, as well as the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy through IVF.
Providing access to quality mental health can protect employees’ mental and physical health as they navigate fertility treatments.
Supporting LGBTQIA+ employees and members along their family journey
LGBTQIA+ employees deserve gender-affirming care and want access to therapists who understand their experiences. Studies also show that this community is at a higher risk for depression and mental stress during pregnancy.
Providing affirming and culturally-conscious care is proven to improve physical health and mental health outcomes including dramatically reduced rates of depression and anxiety. Ensuring employees have access to mental health specialists who share their lived experiences and cultural background can help them navigate the joys and challenges of their family journey.
How Maven’s mental health benefit supports employees and members
Mental health benefits clearly make an outsized impact on employees and members. For health plans and employers looking to better support parents’ mental health, comprehensive family benefits like Maven can make a difference.
Maven is the leading women’s and family health company, connecting parents and parents-to-be with the clinical, emotional, and financial resources they need to thrive on their path to and through parenthood.
Personalized care throughout the family journey
Every member is assigned a Maven Care Advocate who coordinates their care and provides personalized, empathetic support as they start and raise their families. Maven Care Advocates are trained to assess each member’s needs and recommend virtual visits with specialty care providers, including reproductive endocrinologists, doulas, lactation consultants, and more. They also provide referrals for high-quality in-person, in-network care.
"My Care Advocate is always so responsive and kind,” says one Maven member. “This is such a deep emotional subject for a couple and having that level of empathy is so important.”
Unlimited access to virtual mental health specialists
Maven connects members with specialty care providers, including mental health professionals who understand their unique situations. These specialists are available 24/7, and providers have specific experience supporting those navigating their family journeys. 33% of Maven members report that they can better manage their depression and anxiety, and over 40% of members report finding emotional support through Maven’s high-touch, 1:1 mental health coaching.
“Having a mental health professional who specializes in fertility is an amazing benefit,” says Mo, a Maven member. “It has been wonderful to be able to receive emotional care whenever I need it, and to have somebody provide support that’s specific to fertility, and the struggles and challenges this entails—because it’s a very specific type of trauma to go through.”
Access to provider-reviewed content and community support
Maven Care Advocates guide employees and their partners to women’s and family health content and virtual classes based on their needs, including mental health resources. Every piece of content is reviewed by clinical specialists, and all virtual classes are provider-led.
“Almost immediate responses every time, convenient, very helpful, and so many resources,” says a Maven member. “Maven has been a lifesaver in navigating issues but also the emotional support. I can’t even explain how important that’s been in my journey.”
Building better mental health benefits with Maven
As employers and health plans look to build policies and programs to better support mental health for parents and parents-to-be, Maven is here to help. Through our solution, parents can access on-demand mental healthcare, 24/7 specialist support, clinically vetted content, and community groups and forums of their peers.
To learn more about how Maven can make a difference in your organization, contact us today.
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