In June 2022, four in ten adults1 in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety or depression—a big jump from the one in ten adults2 who reported these symptoms in June 2019. This unprecedented mental health crisis affects people of all ages and, according to a statement issued by the Biden-Harris administration, is exposing long-standing cracks in our care infrastructure.3 To address the crisis, the U.S. government has invested $3 billion,4 a part of The American Rescue Plan (ARP),5 to expand state-level access to mental health and substance use services.

Just as the government is taking measurable action to improve access to care, so should organizations that want to support a healthy workforce. Read on to learn about common barriers to care and what employers can do to reduce them.

What are common barriers to accessing mental health care?

Over the last few years, employers across the country have increasingly prioritized offering mental healthcare benefits to their teams. But having services available doesn’t necessarily mean that those services are accessible. Employees face many barriers to accessing the behavioral health care they need. Let’s look at four of the most common barriers.

    1. Mental health care provider shortages

Part of the current mental health crisis in the U.S. is due to a shortage of mental health care providers. With 77% of U.S. counties6 experiencing a severe shortage of psychiatrists, 155 million people7 are without access to care. Unfortunately, this issue is expected to get much worse.

    2. Administrative burden

A whopping 9 out of 10 Americans struggle with health literacy,8 making an already confusing healthcare landscape even more challenging to navigate. When faced with the overwhelming burden of finding and accessing care on their own, many employees decide to go without receiving mental health care altogether.

    3. The cost of care

Despite the uptick in EAPs as a benefit, many employees don’t know what’s available to them and, if they do, aren’t sure what’s covered or how to access the services. With employee utilization of traditional EAPs averaging well under 10%,9 offering the benefit costs employers more than it saves them.

    4. Reactive care

On average, it takes 11 years after mental health symptoms to begin for someone to seek treatment10 Likewise, chronic conditions are often left untreated when they develop. By the time an employee seeks care for a chronic condition or mental health issue, the focus is on treating the symptoms instead of the root cause, leading to increased healthcare costs for both the employee and their employer.

How can organizations improve access to care for employees?

While access to care is a complicated issue overall, there are straightforward solutions employers can implement to reduce barriers to care and improve the wellbeing of their workforce. In our Access to Care flipbook, we share insights to help organizations understand how these barriers affect employee access to care and options for addressing these concerns.

To learn more about how your organization can improve access to care, download Uprise Health’s Access to Care Flipbook.

References

  1. https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/adults-reporting-symptoms-of-anxiety-or-depressive-disorder-during-covid-19-pandemic/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/ERmentalhealth-508.pdf
  3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/05/31/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-highlights-strategy-to-address-the-national-mental-health-crisis/
  4. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/03/11/the-american-rescue-plan-people-difference/
  5. https://www.whitehouse.gov/american-rescue-plan/
  6. https://www.merritthawkins.com/uploadedFiles/Merritt_Hawkins_Incentive_Review_2020.pdf#page=28
  7. https://data.hrsa.gov/topics/health-workforce/shortage-areas
  8. https://nnlm.gov/guides/intro-health-literacy
  9. https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/JIR-ZA-39-08-EL.pdf
  10. https://www.nami.org/mhstats