Employers name mental health access as key priority: survey

A mother is talking with a mental health professional via web conference at home while her children are playing in the background.
The Business Group on Health has released its annual look at employers' healthcare priorities. (recep-bg/GettyImages)

Enhancing access to mental health care remains a key priority for employers, a new survey shows.

The Business Group on Health's annual look at employers' healthcare attitudes found 76% are making increased access to these services a key priority in 2022. In addition, 57% said they will be focusing on reducing the stigma around mental health needs.

That makes 2022 the first year where more than half of employers are planning to conduct an anti-stigma campaign, the survey found.

"Employers have been working for many years to combat the negative connotation of seeking mental health treatment," Brenna Shebel, vice president of the Business Group, said on a call with reporters last week. "They are not backing down on this."

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Ellen Kelsay, CEO of the Business Group, said on the call that employers are also thinking of a variety of conditions in this effort, as they're looking to enhance care for autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or social anxiety.

Shebel said that, for instance, some employers are launching training programs to help managers spot signs of mental health distress in employees. Managers are then armed with information to direct these workers to help they may need, Shebel said.

The goal isn't to "train them to be therapists" but to offer a way to potentially get help for a struggling employee more readily, she said.

"We think that will have a real lasting impact for employees and supervisors alike," Shebel said.

Other key focuses for employers around mental health and well-being include ensuring workers access appropriate treatment, cited by 36% of those surveyed, and burnout, named by 35%.

Twenty-nine percent of employers said they were focusing on the quality of mental health care, and 26% said they were extending their efforts to other family members, such as caregivers or children, according to the survey.