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4 min read

How to Support Your Employees' Mental Health—and Achieve 4x ROI

Williamsburg Therapy Group | Women in Group Therapy Standing Up

Both as an employer and as an individual, I know all too well how broken our behavioral health care system is. Maybe you never have needed care for yourself, but you likely know colleagues and employees who have struggled. You may also have witnessed the devastation of untreated mental health and substance use disorders.




Why is our behavioral health care system such a mess, for employees and employers alike?


We face a daunting and unique set of circumstances at this moment in history. Anxiety, depression, and substance use have soared as we all grapple with the uncertainties and stresses of a pandemic, climate change, economic volatility and more. The shortage of behavioral health professionals that started well before the pandemic is getting worse, making access that much harder. Wait times for appointments can stretch to three months and longer–a lifetime if you’re in crisis now. Costs are high, and people who really need care are starting to put it off to save money. 

Untreated behavioral health and substance use issues have ripple effects that extend far beyond the individuals that we know personally and care so much about. In fact, the economic cost of untreated mental health and substance abuse issues costs the U.S is >$1 trillion each year. People with untreated behavioral health and substance use disorders have problems at work, including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, disruptive impact on morale and more. They are at higher risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, so their medical costs increase as their mental and physical health declines. As they are at higher risk for unemployment, placing higher demands on the public health, criminal justice, social service and health care systems. The downstream impacts can be felt for years to come.


Employers are simply "checking the box" with solutions that fall short of what is truly needed.


Employers of all sizes agree that we are not OK. They care about the well-being of their employees and families. They see the individual struggles and understand the ripple effects on the business, from decreased engagement and productivity to absenteeism and attrition. They also understand that mental well-being is a cornerstone of a positive company culture that attracts the best people and fuels growth. And they are trying to find ways to address the challenges, including some of these approaches.


Talk about mental health in the workplace

Despite an increased focus on mental health in the workplace, 75% of employers acknowledge the presence of stigma in their workplaces. Talking about the importance of mental health is a good start, and employers should proactively share how they address their employees' needs. However, today’s employees are looking for action, and your mental health approach needs to demonstrate your commitment.


Offer "mental health" day options

Days off for mental health needs are usually covered by paid time off policies and have quickly become a table stake in competitive benefits packages.  To achieve the most impact from this option, employers should explain to employees why and how they can take advantage of the time off to take care of themselves, and then make sure managers support employees in doing so.


Provide a mental health app

Mental health apps like Calm and apps that provide virtual access to mental health therapists potentially offer increased access and lower costs for employees. Employers should be aware there may also be privacy and security issues. Apps don’t offer accountability for outcomes. Most importantly, apps have so far demonstrated disappointing engagement rates. In one recent study, the engagement rate with digital mental health apps after the first week of use was just 5%


Make an EAP program available

EAPs are typically add-on benefits to health insurance or other plan. EAPs help employees with a range of issues, from mental health and substance abuse problems to financial planning and even legal counsel. EAPs are versatile, but many employers find EAP utilization is disappointingly low, often because EAPs don’t actively promote the use of benefits or the quality of the care may not be amongst the best in the industry. 


What we need even more: is access to the highest-quality, most comprehensive behavioral healthcare


While all of these approaches are good and may provide some relief to the challenges of convenient, accessible, and affordable care for employees, they do not address the need for the most effective, comprehensive, high-quality care. And this may be the most crucial part to get right, as it is the factor that will most influence outcomes. 


Writing in the Harvard Business Review, John Torous and Elena Rodriguez-Villa offer this sage advice, “The best thing you can do for your employees is to offer them robust health care coverage at a reasonable price. This coverage should include comprehensive mental health care that makes face-to-face therapy with a licensed clinician affordable and accessible.” 


But for many companies, especially small businesses, providing that level of care just hasn’t been an option. 


We believe that access to the highest quality behavioral health care is so critical that we’ve introduced the Employer Program at Williamsburg Therapy Group,  The Employer Program makes it possible to give valued employees in the Brooklyn and Greater NYC markets, the care they deserve, including:


  • Access to the very best doctoral-level psychologists and psychiatrists in the area, who treat a full spectrum of behavioral health issues.
  • Guaranteed first appointment within 72 hours
  • Convenient in-person or online therapy options
  • Little or no cost to employees and their families
  • Robust reporting to close the loop so you know exactly what impact your investments are having, and our guarantee for results


By combining affordability, accessibility, convenience, and best quality behavioral health care,  the Employer Program puts a truly impactful and differentiating benefit within reach of even small companies within the Brooklyn & NYC markets.


Better mental health care is better business (and 4x ROI proves it)


An analysis by NSC and NORC at the University of Chicago reveals organizations that support mental health see a return of $4 for every dollar invested. This is in addition to the value realized by being better able to recruit and retain the very best talent while ensuring your team has access to the best mental health resources, so they can optimize their productivity.


  • Increasing the ability to recruit and retain top talent. 

The APA notes that 8 in 10 U.S. workers say that how employers support their employees’ mental health will be an important consideration when they seek future job opportunities. Offering a best-in-class behavioral health benefit for both employees and their families can help small employers compete more successfully for top talent and ensure that those people are engaged and stay with the company for years to come.


  • Increasing productivity. 

With 90% of employers reporting that the COVID-19 crisis has negatively affected the behavioral health and often the productivity of their workforce, companies need impactful ways to support employees in coming to work energized, engaged, and ready to contribute to their full potential.


  • Increasing ROI.

Leading employers have known that the investments they make in improving mental health in the workplace pay off, and now we have numbers that back them up. Research from the NSC and NORC at the University of Chicago reveals that companies that invest in mental health see a return of $4 for every dollar spent. They’ve even made it easy for you to calculate your potential return here.


These powerful numbers make it clear that better behavioral health care is both better for people and better for business.


About The Employer Program at Williamsburg Therapy Group


To learn more about how The Employer Program at Williamsburg Therapy Group can help you provide best-in-class behavioral health care to your employees and their families and improve outcomes for your business, contact us today at (347) 765-0904.


-Authored by Founder/Director & CEO Dr. Daniel Selling

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