Employers continue to experience the challenges of an increase in demand for behavioral health services from their employees — driven in large part by the stressors brought on by the pandemic over the past few years.
During our recent webinar: Behavioral Health at Work, How Employers Can Increase Access, our panelists discussed how increasing access to behavioral health services for employees can have a significant positive impact on health and wellbeing.
To get their firsthand perspective, Marathon Health CMO and webinar series host, Shelly Towns spoke with Jana Goolsby, Wellbeing Program Manager from the City of Olathe; Emily VanLeeuwen, PsyD Licensed Psychologist for Marathon Health; and Katie Vicars, Sr. Vice President of Client Development for Marathon Health.
Jana started the discussion by talking about how The City of Olathe faced a unique challenge when the pandemic started because they didn’t shut down like most of the country. Their employees include trash collectors, firefighters and police officers, so the city knew they needed to find a way to support their behavioral health needs. “Our biggest goals as an organization is providing top customer service to the citizens who live here,” Jana says. “And we can’t do that if we aren’t taking good care of our employees.”
One of the ways Jana says they’ve been able to accomplish this is by heavily promoting their employee assistance program (EAP), along with their Marathon Health Center which offers behavioral health services that are easy to access. “It’s about the employee experience, making our employees feel valued,” Jana says. “It creates a full circle of total wellbeing. By supporting your employees’ mental health, you show them that you care. We knew our employees were struggling by looking at our claims data, so we decided to bring the resource close to them.”
The City of Olathe began offering 8 hours a week of onsite behavioral health counseling and quickly jumped up to 16 hours as employee demand increased. They’re now looking to add an additional 8 hours per week to accommodate employee needs and to make sure they’re getting the mental healthcare they need.
Emily is a behavioral health specialist for the City of Olathe and says that she saw an increase in engagement once members realized how easy it was to book appointments and when a lot of the barriers had been removed by things like virtual therapy sessions and no copays. “I feel like personally, one of the silver linings from the pandemic is that technology has improved and also that insurance companies have had to be flexible,” Emily says.
She also says that one of the benefits of being a part of Marathon Health is her access to a collaborative care team. “If I’m seeing someone and they’re dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and I find out they’re getting sent for a sleep study, it’s easy for me to have a conversation with the clinician who ordered the study so that I can let them know that their sleeping issue is probably related to their current mental health without having to jump through a lot of hoops,” Emily says. “The care team has access to my notes and vice versa.”
Katie says when it comes to talking to employers about providing behavioral health services, it’s important they understand the connection between primary care and mental health. “If one of their employees is struggling with depression or anxiety, they may never get around to addressing chronic conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular issues — so taking a holistic approach to helping them manage their healthcare is important,” she says.
The participants also discussed the importance of providing employees with flexible options for behavioral healthcare to encourage engagement including virtual services like Anywhere, onsite services and hybrid models that offer both virtual, onsite or near-site counseling.
To learn more about how to provide your employees with behavioral services that are easy to access check out the full webinar video above.