Employers wary of gaps in mental healthcare

Organisations have increasingly recognised the importance of mental health to employee productivity and business profitability, but the issue remains high on the compensation and benefits agenda in 2023. Insurers have responded to the rising demand for mental health support, but a significant number of them still offer no coverage.

Employers wary of gaps in mental healthcare

In 2021, mental and emotional risks ranked third among the top causes of claims globally, and among the top third of risk factors in Asia. This pressed insurers to create or increase support for mental health prevention, management, and treatment. But the same survey shows that, as of last year, one in five insurers still had no offerings related to mental health.

Although headline trends are encouraging on the surface, the scope of mental health care remains limited in reality. While two-thirds of insurers cover psychological and/or psychiatric counselling sessions, 66% of them only cover 10 sessions or fewer. In Asia, only half of insurers will cover any counselling sessions at all, compared with 73% of insurers in Europe.

Mental health support is also more focused on reactive treatment rather than prevention or management. Globally, only one-quarter of insurers provide tools to help employees become better equipped against mental and emotional health problems. In Asia, the most common strategies included in medical plans are tools to help build skills such as mindfulness to better cope with pressure (22%), preventive resilience or mindfulness coaching (20%), and content and delivery support for anti-stigma communication campaigns (11%).

Digitising mental health

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, a number of new digital tools and services that support wellbeing and diagnosis have emerged.

Telemedicine services, which include video chats with physicians and other health professionals, became an integral part of the packages insurers offered during the height of the health crisis. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of remote services made them successful, and they were well-received by the market. Many organisations and insurers expect such services to stay in place this year and beyond.

Amid the evolving benefits landscape, insurers are considering expanding their digital services by offering or considering applications that can diagnose simple medical conditions, and applications or wearables to self-manage wellbeing.

As well as going digital, insurers and employers are collaborating to implement changes in policies and operations to respond to the new trends in workplace practices, attitudes, and demographics. This means making sure that content is accessible and inclusive for all, including people with disabilities. Insurers and employers are providing regular training for member services teams to improve cultural understanding and foster inclusion, and are considering changing eligibility requirements to allow coverage for non-permanent and part-time employees as well as lower-paid workers.



Read the full The Innovation Rules: How Compensation and Benefits Strategies are Evolving in 2023 report here.

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