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EAPs and Mental Health Programs: Maximizing Uptake to Improve Access to Care 

November 29, 2022
Rachel Alfred
Timer  Read Time: 6 minutes

As awareness around mental health and its impact on the workforce continues to grow, employers everywhere are working harder than ever to improve access to care. At a cost of $1 trillion yearly to the global economy, the work of helping employees overcome barriers to mental health support is vital. As individuals and the world-at-large struggle to recover from one challenging event after another, accessible, inclusive mental health support is more critical than ever before.

At many companies, the first line of defense for supporting mental health and helping employees through any struggles they may be experiencing are EAPs (employee assistance programs) and mental health programs. 97% of large businesses (those with 5,000 employees or more) offer EAPs. A large majority of organizations (78%) complement or plan to complement their EAPs with additional mental health resources this year to help cover the growing demand for mental health support among employees. EAPs and mental wellbeing programs benefit individuals and businesses with very positive returns on investment. For every dollar spent, EAPs return between $5.17-$6.47, and mental wellness initiatives return $5.31.

However, significant barriers (stigma, convenience, expense) keep many employees from using and benefiting from employer-provided resources—on average, uptake for EAPs hovers around 10%.

What barriers are preventing employees from accessing available mental wellness and health support?

Many barriers prevent employees from getting the beneficial mental health and wellbeing support they need, even when they have access to employer-provided resources and services.  

The barrier: A lack of awareness

Typically, this common issue is caused by ineffective communication. A telling example? While the vast majority of employers offer an EAP, only about half of employees are aware they have access. And even those employees who know about employer-provided EAP services and mental health programs may not be sure how best to use them or what they’re truly for. This is made worse by hard-to-understand eligibility and enrollment information and concerns employees may have around ethical data usage, i.e., how their personal medical data is used and kept private.

The solution: Clear, consistent comms

Clearer, more consistent comms sent out at regular intervals through multiple channels will help you reach as much of your employee population as possible. Ideally, you’ll partner with your service providers. Partnering can lessen the workload for your in-house team and help ensure any messaging used is targeted, user-friendly and, most importantly, technically correct. Partners like PlanSource and Koa Health offer practical resources for successful implementation and post-launch so that your team can get the most out of the offerings you’ve selected before, during and after rollout.

The barrier: Too many unlinked resources

When employees are faced with many unlinked resources and don’t know which might be most suitable for their unique circumstances, they may experience benefits fatigue. All too common in the post-pandemic workplace, this pain point typically occurs when care pathways aren’t well-integrated. When benefits are dispersed and disconnected, it becomes difficult for employees to find their way to the right support at the right time or even at all. This can also make it difficult for line managers and leadership to direct employees to useful resources when they notice someone needs assistance.

The solution: Integrated benefits

For maximum uptake and results, your offerings must work together as a system. For that to be possible, they should ideally be linked at the source. Providers like PlanSource offer employers a centralized place to manage benefits and benefits-related tasks, making it easier for busy HR teams to track how services are used and what may need extra attention (and resources). Digital-first solutions like Koa Health’s flagship mental wellbeing app, Koa Foundations, are an effective way to introduce employee populations to healthier mental wellbeing behaviors. Koa Foundations’ regular wellbeing check-ins also encourage employees to seek out additional help via employer-provided resources as needed and help them keep track of how they’re feeling.

The barrier: Too narrow a range of resources

Finally, one of the biggest challenges to delivering comprehensive care to your workforce is ensuring the care available extends across the entire continuum of mental health. At Koa Health, we believe that mental health encompasses a wide range—everything from chronic mental health conditions to evidence-based mental wellness support. Unfortunately, most employer-provided resources only address the far ends of the mental health continuum, offering general wellbeing support and acute and emergency care. This creates a “missing middle.” At most organizations, most employees fall into this category, made up of people without a formal diagnosis who are unlikely to seek out traditionally delivered therapy.

The solution: A more comprehensive range of care

These individuals need self-guided practical tools to help them build resilience before they become high risk for a mental health event. They’re most likely to benefit from easy-to-access digital-first solutions, such as Koa Health’s flagship mental wellbeing app, Koa Foundations, to help them learn healthier mental wellness behaviors and coping skills.

Creating better pathways and improving access

At Koa Health, we’ve seen firsthand how making healthy mental wellbeing habits easier to build positively impacts mental health and overall wellbeing. In two to four weeks of use, our science-based mental wellbeing platform, Koa Foundations, has been shown to improve stress, resilience, sleep, anxious thoughts, and overall wellbeing. Top-ranked by ORCHA and One Mind and with an average rating of 4.7 stars on the app store, we can confidently say that Koa Foundations’ solid evidence base and user-friendly design sets it apart from competitors.

Another quality that sets Koa Health apart is our focus on ethically sound and science-backed methods to help employees manage mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing is integral to a positive employee experience, overall health and a life well lived. Your team needs practical, accessible support more than ever right now. People spend most of their waking hours at work, putting employers in a unique place to support staff.

And while we prefer to focus on the net impact on employees’ mental wellbeing, there’s no denying the link between business health and employees’ mental health. Research from Deloitte confirms that mental health is a key element in business success, improving productivity and engagement and reducing turnover and absenteeism among employees.

Want to find out more?

Visit our website to learn more about Koa Health’s solutions and how our app-based mental wellbeing platform, Koa Foundations, can empower your employees to build better mental health habits and become more resilient, authentic versions of themselves. To find out more about our partnership with PlanSource, visit our partner webpage.

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