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How to Change Your Mental Health Benefits Programs After Open Enrollment

Three tips to help you enhance or replace your current mental health benefits off-cycle.

For many benefits leaders, fine-tuning a benefits strategy after open enrollment seems like a daunting task. If a company has offices in multiple regions, nuances in local benefits laws that can further complicate the situation.

However, adding new benefits off-cycle such as mental health support is sometimes necessary, and failing to do can be costly. Organizations that cannot meet the needs of their employees may see a reduction their well-being, engagement, and productivity.

The good news is that with the right support, it is possible to enhance or replace your current benefit offerings after open enrollment. You can also receive onboarding support so that the rollout a new program is successful. When it comes to mental health benefits, ensuring your employees feel supported is also more important than ever before. Learn why these benefits are vital to workplace success and how to overcome common challenges when enhancing or replacing your benefits offerings.

Why Now Is the Right Time to Enhance Mental Health Benefits

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 8 people has a mental health condition. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common concerns, with 301 million people living with an anxiety condition and 
280 million living with depression. As economic downturns and social polarization continue to unfold, the threat
 of rising mental health conditions is alarming. The economic consequences of mental health conditions are equally enormous. Anxiety and depression contribute to a loss of productivity, costing the global economy an estimated US $1 trillion yearly. By 2030, this will exceed 
$6 trillion, an amount greater than that associated with any other non-communicable disease.

As if these numbers weren't alarming enough, a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting in collaboration with Modern Health, found that employees say they’re doing better than they really are. In 2022, when asked to rate their mental health status on a scale from 1-10, 79% of employees report having a positive mental health score, i.e., between 6 and 10. However, when looking deeper, 58% report that the pandemic has induced new mental health challenges, and half (49%) say news and headlines have a negative impact on their mental health. A full 42% thought their mental health would improve as the pandemic improved, but it has not.Although the cost of offering mental health benefits is important, particularly during periods of economic uncertainty, these figures indicate that the cost of inaction can be more detrimental to the economic success of an organization.

How to Overcome Challenges When Enhancing or Replacing Mental Health Programs

The Challenge: Not Enough Time and Resources

Reduced budgets due and changes in benefits policies may create additional strain for HR teams and benefits leaders this season. This often adds additional stress, and  results in less time and resources to dedicate to evaluating new benefits such as mental health support.

Consider partnering with a mental health solution that understands these limitations upfront, and ask for their support in building the business case for employee mental health benefits. Often, a mental health solution will have clinical experts, research, and supplemental information that can help benefits leaders to understand the economic and clinical value of supporting their employees, and will partner with them to educate other stakeholders within an organization.

If the limited time and resources also extend to when and how to rollout a new mental health benefit, a mental health solution can also provide implementation and onboarding support. For example, Modern Health provides full onboarding support, executed from start to finish within 4-6 weeks, saving benefits leaders time and effort during organizationally chaotic times. For example, when payment card issuer Marqeta partnered with Modern Health, the company had issued its IPO only months earlier. Marqeta enrolled and adopted the benefits seamlessly to see benefits amply used in a short period of time.

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The Challenge: Mental Health Benefits Have Low Adoption Rates

If you offer your employees an EAP like many companies do, you may feel that investing in additional mental benefits will be a wasted investment. Typical EAP utilization is below 10% at best and below 5% in most organizations. This can be a barrier especially when every dollar counts. Many benefits leaders will also lack the insights to understand whether the current mental health benefits they offer are actually working, making it more difficult to ensure the success of their benefits offerings.

Consider offering a mental health benefit that offers a care model that offers support to a full-spectrum of mental health needs. The future of mental health requires benefits that meet the unique needs of all employees. For example, Modern Health offers customized mental health benefit options that are focused on culturally-centered care and tailored to the individual employee. Additionally, we provide these distinctive services that improve employee adoption and help provide measurable ROI for employers:

  • Multiple modalities of care: Many employees envision mental health care as one-on-one sessions with a therapist or coach. However, only 44% of Modern Health members new to the platform want to receive this type of assistance. Over half of members are interested in alternate modalities like self-serve digital options. Modern Health offers self-serve digital options, including meditations, digital courses, and live provider-led group sessions. 
  • Benefits that evolve with changing mental health care needs: Mental health care needs are constantly changing, and benefits need to be able to change as well. Modern Health offers mental health care solutions that include personalized support, self-paced programs, and group sessions, in addition to individual care to help employees find options that evolve with their changing needs. 
  • Tailored benefits to meet specific needs: One size definitely does not fit all regarding mental health care. Yet, without specific considerations, benefits can have barriers that prevent employees from accessing care. Multiple modalities of care are one example of providing employees with more tailored options. Additionally, virtual care can address barriers like limited transportation or mobility. Modern Health's vision for DEIB illustrates the importance of supporting multiple communities to help break down barriers to care.
  • Elimination of cost barriers: Cost barriers create hurdles to effective care, leading to lower adoption rates. When care is easily affordable, employees are more likely to find an accessible entry point to mental health care that helps them develop healthy habits. By providing easily accessible care, employers will also recognize a higher ROI and improved adoption rates, resulting in enhanced performance and productivity. Modern Health keeps costs low by using a "stepped care" model so individuals are paired with the best care modality for their unique needs. 

The Challenge: Choosing the Right Vendor

Along with having limited time and capacity to evaluate a vendor, the plethora of mental health solutions that exist in the marketplace further complicate the situation. This makes it difficult to compare benefits, costs, and determine which vendors might be a good fit for an organization and their employees.

To cut through the noise, it’s important to first consider whether your current mental health benefits are robust enough to support the needs of your diverse employees, and the long-term needs of your organization. If the answer is "no," it may be helpful to generate a short list of the top unmet needs that a new mental health benefit must meet.

Assess whether your employees require more culturally-centered support that offer mental health services in their language. To ensure equitable access to care for your international employees, focus on mental health vendors that utilize a rigorous vetting process to vet both U.S. and international providers and go beyond provider demographics to screen for specializations, clinical approaches, and cultural humility.

Next, define which types of benefits drive higher employee engagement and satisfaction. Conduct employee surveys, track and measure benefits utilization metrics, and ask your managers if they feel adequately supported when using their benefits. Gathering these insights can help develop a clear list of requirements that will streamline the process of selecting a new mental health vendor.

Changing, enhancing, or replacing your mental health benefits can be daunting, but it no longer has to be. When you partner with a high-quality provider like Modern Health, you can receive personalized support that will vastly improve your experience.

If you'd like to reduce the amount of guesswork involved in finding a right mental health solution, download our how-to guide that shows benefits leaders how to assess the quality of their mental health benefits, and discover ways to enhance or replace their current offerings.

Modern Health

Modern Health is the comprehensive mental wellness platform that combines the WHO well-being assessment, self-service wellness kits, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists available in 35 languages all in a single app. Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, de-stigmatizing the conversation, and increasing accessibility of mental health services for all.