Digital mental health organization SilverCloud Health has released its 2021 Employee Mental Health and Well-being Report. The report is an up-to-date, wide-ranging study examining employers’ role in providing expanded support to their employees to help curb the mental health crisis. The survey data show that many employees struggle with reduced productivity due to stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic and that employees’ mental health symptoms are going unaddressed and becoming more significant.
Key Findings – 2021 SilverCloud Health Report
Traditional in-person mental health therapies aren’t adequate to address the widespread feelings of enhanced stress and anxiety across the population, given challenges with barriers to care and stigmas associated with seeking support for mental health disorders. With nearly one in five U.S. adults living with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019), estimates suggest that only half of the people with mental illnesses receive treatment. Technology has opened a new frontier in mental health support and data collection.
The SilverCloud report shows employees want more access to online therapy, decreasing stigma and giving them more anonymity and control of their care pathway. SilverCloud estimates that a company with 5,000 employees could lose $28 million annually in lost productivity if mental health challenges go ignored.
Key survey findings include:
Employees are not receiving needed care
- 33% said they do not have access to mental health benefits through their employer.
- Among those who don’t use their benefits, two of the top reasons cited were:
- Unaware of what is included in their mental health benefits
- Not sure how to access the benefits
- Among those who don’t use their benefits, two of the top reasons cited were:
Employee productivity impacted
- 29% of employees said they were “not productive at all” or “less productive” during COVID-19
- An increase from the 16% who said they were “not productive at all” or “less productive” before COVID-19
A need for employer support
- 78% want mental health services & support online
- 35% want access to online mental health professional services via text & chat
Heightened mental health challenges during COVID-19
- 90% of respondents contribute COVID-19 to increasing their stress level
- 30% have experienced an increased need for mental health treatment during this pandemic
SilverCloud suggests that based on the fact that 38% of respondents reported missing time at work due to COVID-19-related stress, they estimate that the time missed by these employees is equivalent to 6.7% of all hours worked, or an average of over a half-hour per day for every employee.
Methodology – SilverCloud Health Survey
SilverCloud Health collected responses between Jan. 4-7, 2021, through a third-party research firm, from 1,288 U.S.-based people 18 years and older who are employed on a full-time basis. Researchers attempted to achieve the U.S. Census balance among different age groups, income levels, races, genders, relationship statuses, geographical regions, and other factors to ensure a diverse and representative sample.
The survey recipients had average annual earnings of $87,000, which equates to losses of almost $5,800 per year for every employee. For an employer with 5,000 employees, this equates to 1,900 employees missing time due to stress and is worth over $120,000 in lost productivity per day or over $28 million per year. The survey data suggest that implementing digital technologies that scale mental health services and tools across the continuum of mental health can generate significant return-on-investment and substantially reduce these losses.
To access the full study, click here.
Lack of Mental Health Services
Sixty percent of young people with major depression received no mental health treatment in 2017-2018, with around one-quarter of adults with mental illness reported an unmet need for treatment. While this statistic should be concerning to everyone, it should especially worry employers.
According to the SilverCloud report, employees want more access to online therapy, which reduces stigma and gives more anonymity and control of their care pathway. Employers should recognize that conventional therapy resources are limited and traditionally aren’t equipped to deal with the mental health crisis’s full scale. They should take steps to fully understand their employees’ emotional health and establish more flexible, digital programs that can provide clinically appropriate care tailored to their needs. While the data centers around pandemic-related stress, SilverCloud highlights the significant needs of employees wanting more mental health and well-being support, which will likely outlast the pandemic.
Low Utilization Rate of Digital Mental Health Services
Respondents to the SilverCloud Health survey produced some valuable insights into the low utilization rates of many digital mental health solutions. One notable response includes:
- 35% of respondents feel they are not receiving the mental health care they need. This rises to 44% among those who said they experience depression symptoms and 39% among those experiencing anxiety.
Respondents were asked to choose up to three reasons why they don’t use their mental health benefits from a list of 11 options. A few of the top answers include:
- 50% — don’t need help for stress, depression, or other behavioral issues.
- 15% — unaware of what is included in the benefits
- 14% — unaware of how to access the included benefits
- 14% — expensive out-of-pocket cost
- 13% — I don’t have time to get help
- 9% — concerned about stigmas related to getting mental health services
- 7% — benefits were confusing
There are multiple reasons employers don’t provide mental health benefits, including cost and not fully realizing the need or lacking the information to understand the potential ROI. Countless people facing mental health conditions never get help because care and support are difficult to access. As the report notes, digital mental health programs provide faster access to the behavioral health services and support they need to reduce their symptoms, decrease the mental health stigma and feel better. While only a small percentage of patients use online self-management interventions, there is a far greater interest to include them in the treatment.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, employees feel like they are truly lacking the tools and resources to help them manage their feelings of stress and anxiety. These feeling are compounded further as a result of things like parental guilt, pandemic fatigue and the challenge of trying to remain productive in an almost all remote environment. With mental health symptoms going unaddressed, this will also impact employers directly in the form of reduced productivity, turnover and absenteeism. As affirmed in the recently published Banbury Forum for Digital Mental Health Treatment statement, digital mental health treatments have proven to be effective interventions and can overcome access and provider shortages.Ken Cahill, CEO of SilverCloud Health
The SilverCloud Health Perspective
A significant part of driving the adoption of mental health benefits is providing relevant content addressing the challenges people face. SilverCloud Health’s digital mental health platform delivers the appropriate on-demand content to the right person at the right time, driving better patient outcomes. In 2020, SilverCloud Health’s clinical team introduced a dedicated program called Challenging Times to help patients deal with COVID-19 related issues, such as worry, sleep, grief, isolation, and work-life balance. Additionally, SilverCloud has released a new content extension called Money Worries, helping users better cope with financial distress.
SilverCloud’s 2021 report concludes that employers can help address the care gaps identified in this study by looking for digital mental health solutions or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers to offer critical services. Additionally, offering more flexible, digitally delivered mental health programs and services tailored to how employees prefer to consume information on their device or home computer can have a powerful impact on employees’ mental health and well-being.
The Future of Mental Health
Digital mental health companies have made positive headlines recently. In January, on-demand mental healthcare organization Ginger published research in The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) that demonstrates the effectiveness of a virtual, on-demand mental health system in reducing anxiety symptoms. The study found that a virtual, team-based approach comprised of behavioral health coaching and clinical telemental health services is more effective than either modality alone.
With nearly one in five U.S. adults living with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019), estimates suggest that only half of the people with mental illnesses receive treatment. Technology has opened a new frontier in mental health support and data collection. The COVID-19 situation has been stressful because it’s hard to predict how things will develop, and our circumstances are changing rapidly. This can leave us feeling powerless like we’re no longer in control of our own lives. As is the case in many aspects of our lives, we can’t control things in this situation. These include the actions and reactions of other people, how long the crisis will last, and what might happen in the future. Digital therapy programs that can offer courses of evidence-based therapies also have a role in the crisis, given their unique potential for scalability.
About SilverCloud Health
SilverCloud Health is the world’s leading digital mental health company, enabling providers, health plans and employers to deliver clinically validated digital health/therapeutic care that improves outcomes, increases access and scale while reducing costs. The company’s multi-award-winning digital mental health platform is a result of over 18 years of clinical research with leading academic institutions. Today, SilverCloud is being used by over 300 organizations globally to meet their populations’ mental health needs. Global experts have deeply validated the platform through full randomized control trials and real-world data from over half a million SilverCloud users. The platform continues to lead the industry with its effectiveness, engagement and range of clinical programs that encompasses the spectrum of mental health needs.