There Is a National Mental-Health Crisis Going On. Here’s How to Help Your Employees.

This healthtech company piloted a mental-health program with dramatic results.
May 5, 2021

Cool your jets. Take a chill pill. Take a deep breath. Whoosah. Inhale. Exhale. 

Put simply: You need to relax and take care of yourself. We are so stressed out as a country that it prompted the American Psychological Association to “sound the alarm” in an October 2020 report. “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” the report said. 

In recent years, employers have started recognizing that poor mental health impacts worker productivity and increases burnout and turnover. The events of 2020 only magnified the problem. Yet, despite the building momentum to offer mental health benefits, there is still a disconnect between leadership and employee sentiments about mental health support offered at work. Ninety-six percent of CEOs think they are doing enough for employee mental health while only 69 percent of employees agree, according to a 2020 report by Ginger, a mental health service. 

How can employers cover the final mile to ensure that mental health support services are delivering results? Accolade, a health benefits tech company that supports mental health initiatives, rolled out a partnership with an on-demand mental health service for its customers last year. But first, it implemented the service with its own employees as a proof-of-concept and case study. 

According to the case study results, of the respondents who screened positive for depression, 75 percent of them said they felt improvement in depression with coaching. Additionally, 90 percent of Accolade employees agreed that the company is supporting employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Built In Seattle connected with Accolade’s EVP of People and Culture Britt Provost for a detailed look at how the company has been changing the conversation around mental health in the workplace and getting such dramatic results.

 

 

Britt Provost
EVP, People & Culture

How have you created a culture where people feel comfortable having honest conversations about mental health? 

Our company is dedicated to helping people live their healthiest lives, so we especially want our employees to be living their healthiest lives. We know that in order to do this we need to support their mental health as well as their physical, professional and financial health.  

To create an environment where our employees feel comfortable having honest conversations around mental health, we’ve taken a few steps:

  • We focused on destigmatizing the topics by having employees and leaders share powerful stories of navigating their own mental health and seeking support or help.

  • We leveraged our chief medical officer in communications to educate our employees on the mental health crisis in this country.

  • We created an open #wellbeing Slack channel where tools, stories and resources are shared in a weekly post with employees with a 50 percent direct focus on mental health.

  • During the pandemic, Accolade rolled out a new emotional support benefit, Ginger, and sponsored free Teladoc general medicine and behavioral health visits.
     

We focused on destigmatizing the topics by having employees and leaders share powerful stories of navigating their own mental health and seeking support or help.”


What’s one formal offering your company has that supports the mental health of your employees?

The biggest investment we have made is offering Ginger. This service offers 24/7 on-demand emotional support through live coach chat, guided content, video therapy and psychiatry to our employees. This was especially critical as we entered the pandemic. Employees received free coaching sessions, monthly webinars, unlimited access to a resource library, on-demand training and more. We’ve already seen a 75 percent improvement in depression with coaching through Ginger.

 

Other mental health services Accolade is offering:

  • Teladoc behavioral health support seven days a week from the privacy of an employee’s home.
  • Robust employee assistance plan that includes eight free sessions for covered services, which includes behavioral health.
  • An Accolade for Accolade benefit program.

 

When employees do come to their managers to discuss mental health issues, how are those situations handled? 

We continuously share resources with leaders about how to proactively check-in with their team on a human level, support employees in navigating various situations, and help them to refer their employees to the many tools and programs Accolade has to offer.

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