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June 08, 2022

Ending the Guesswork: The Future of Mental Healthcare Is Personalized

5 minute read

Customer Stories Workplace Wellbeing

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Melissa Carter avatar

Melissa Carter

The need for mental healthcare has never been greater. 

According to the 2021 Mental Health at Work Report, 50% of surveyed full-time, U.S. workers have quit roles due to mental health issues. Researchers also showed that, in 2021, respondents missed an average of eight days of work for mental health reasons. 

Fortunately, many organizations are aware of the need to more comprehensively address employee mental health. Even prior to the pandemic, companies have sought to increase access to behavioral health services and EAPs. 

Yet ensuring access to mental healthcare is only part of the story. 

A key part of your benefits strategy

We sat down with Wellstar Health System at The Conference Board’s Annual Employee Healthcare Conference in San Diego to talk about why a comprehensive mental health solution should be at the forefront of every benefits strategy.

As Wellstar discovered firsthand, employees often underutilize EAP plans while overutilizing other types of costly behavioral health benefits. And while there is now greater literacy around the value of mental healthcare, many employees don’t know how to find the care they need, when they need it. 

In response, vanguard organizations like Wellstar are going beyond simply increasing access and providing personalized mental healthcare services. 

What is personalized mental healthcare? 

Designed to provide the right care at the right time, personalized mental healthcare leverages the power of data to shorten the time to recovery. Employees receive an individualized plan that includes access to a range of services targeted to address each employee’s unique needs.

Personalized mental healthcare benefits both employees and organizations in four key ways. 

Increased utilization of mental health care services

Spring Health research shows that personalized mental healthcare services result in two to three times the engagement rate of traditional EAP solutions.  

Enabling proactive workplaces

The pandemic, racial violence, and school shootings are taking a toll on employee health and productivity. 

Personalized mental health benefits enable organizations to provide ongoing care and help employees proactively establish good mental wellness habits amid ongoing upheaval. 

Providing the kind of benefits employees (and candidates) expect

Traditionally, employee assistance benefits have been one size fits all.

In a recent survey of 1,000 US employees, 56% said that their employer-sponsored health and wellbeing programs were irrelevant to their needs. 80% said that “more personalized programming” would inspire them to increase benefit use.

Reducing turnover

The companies we partner with experience significantly lower employee turnover rates. We’ve found that after employees sign up for their Spring Health benefit, they’re 1.6 times less likely to quit. 

Why Wellstar switched to an innovative EAP

Founded in 1993, Wellstar Health System is one of the largest and most integrated healthcare systems in Georgia.

While Wellstar’s mission is to enhance the health and wellbeing of every person they serve, by 2021, employees were experiencing high levels of “burnout, fatigue, and distress,” says Penny Ferrell, Executive Director of Employee Wellness & Work Life Services at Wellstar.

“We were having enormously high claims from our behavioral health plan, but our EAP utilization was only 2%. Our EAP was very traditional, and we’d been with the provider for 15 years. But it wasn’t helping our team members.”

Why Wellstar chose Spring Health

When the contract for the EAP was up for renewal, Wellstar opted to partner with Spring Health instead. “We realized that Spring Health’s mental health platform would be a game changer for employees,” says Ferrell.

Wellstar employees take an assessment and receive a personalized care plan that can include:

  • Therapy, including dependents as young as six
  • Coaching for adults
  • Moments, an audio library of wellness exercises
  • One-on-one access to an onsite Care Navigator 

“With Spring Health, employees and their family members are getting the personalized help they need in less than two days,” says Ferrell.

The impact of onsite Care Navigators 

In addition, bringing Spring Health Care Navigators onsite has been instrumental in reaching 24,000 employees. 

“Communication is a challenge, as 70% of our workforce doesn’t sit in front of a computer every day,” says Ferrell. “We created dedicated spaces for Spring Health Care Navigators to have office hours. Employees can meet with their Care Navigators face to face, as well as virtually.”

Increasing EAP utilization by 600%

After 10 months, utilization of Spring Health services is now at 14%, a 600% increase over Wellstar’s previous EAP. As a result, Wellstar has experienced a reduction in behavioral health costs.

“Employees are going to therapy about 4.8 times via Spring Health, and that’s it,” says Ferrell. “They’re not using our medical plan for therapy, and so our behavioral health claims have gone down.”

Most critically, with Spring Health, Wellstar is now being proactive, instead of reactive, in addressing employee mental health. “We’re spending upfront to ensure employees are getting the care they need,” says Ferrell.

Michele Harris, Manager of Work-Life Services at Wellstar adds, “Our mission is to enhance the overall wellbeing of employees. And when you look at that, it’s really about taking care of our team members first, so that they can be their best.”

Steps for providing personalized mental health services

How can HR professionals advocate for more personalized mental health services?

Ferrell and Harris recommend: 

  • Challenging the status quo. Go beyond “because we’ve always done it that way.” Resources should do more than just check a box, as employees today want—and need—meaningful benefits.
  • Use the numbers. Many EAPs have single-digit utilization and low ROI. Could resources be used more effectively?
  • Think about a cost shift, not a cost increase. Consider how improved mental wellness can positively affect productivity and retention. In addition, how might the organization reduce behavioral health costs while providing more targeted and effective care for employees? 

Enabling organizations to be proactive

Personalized mental healthcare goes beyond ensuring access and instead relies on data, one-on-one connection, and a wide range of tailored services to help every employee work toward mental wellness. 

In addition, personalized care is more effective: Spring Health research shows that quickly guiding members to the right care at the right time leads to 60% faster recovery than traditional care. 

Organizations that go beyond the traditional EAP and provide meaningful mental wellness benefits have an advantage. They not only increase utilization of benefits, but also attract top candidates, reduce turnover, and proactively address mental health issues, while reducing burnout and fatigue.

Learn more about our expanded offerings, and how they can better support the mental health needs of your employees and their families.

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About the Author

Melissa Carter avatar

Melissa Carter

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest and has been writing for over two decades. She has a degree in Art History and is working toward a Master's in Public Health. Melissa is intensely introverted and really likes starting books (but not always finishing them).