As we approach two years of coping with COVID-19 and its latest variants, there is a burgeoning need for mental health services. The American Psychological Association (APA) describes it as a “health care tsunami” with 84% of psychologists reporting an increase in demand for anxiety treatment since the start of the pandemic.
This demand has exacerbated the usual difficulties in getting needed mental health care: providers who don’t accept insurance plans, practices closed to new patients, the high cost of out-of-network care, and a limited number of local (and overburdened) practitioners in some areas.
Businesses are also adversely affected by COVID. It’s hard for employees to stay focused and efficient when they’re worried about their health and safety at work, at home, and in the community. Concerns are compounded with children in school or daycare and family members in shared or congregate housing.
As a result of these pandemic-related stresses, Harvard Business Review reports that most companies “are less productive now than they were 12 months ago” as employees struggle to balance the new realities of work and home. The best way to improve productivity is for employee health plans to effectively reduce the barriers to quality mental health care.
Telehealth Leads the Way
Collaborative technologies have changed the way we work and access health care during the pandemic, and that change is here to stay. According to an APA survey, 96% of psychologists said that telehealth “has proven its effectiveness as a therapeutic tool” with 93% intending to continue providing telehealth options after the pandemic.
Telehealth eliminates the physical barriers to quality mental health services, making it available to all employees regardless of location. It can also make such care financially accessible. Forward-looking employee health plans offer telehealth services that are completely free to members. It’s a small price to pay for the priceless benefits of employee wellbeing and productivity.