Study Finds Although 64% of Employees Are Struggling with Their Mental Health, Only 19% Used Their Company’s Mental Health Benefits Last Year
SAN FRANCISCO, March 21, 2023—A new study by One Medical, a leading national human-centered, technology-powered primary care organization, and Workplace Intelligence, a thought leadership and research agency focused on the world of work, found that even though many employees are finding it difficult to improve their physical and mental health, they’re not making the most of their healthcare benefits.
The study of 1,600 U.S. workers and HR leaders found that 3 out of 4 employees felt their health either worsened or stayed the same in 2022. Just one-quarter said their health improved. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of workers reported struggling with mental or behavioral health issues, and 91% said they’re less productive as a result.
One reason for the overall poor state of health is that some workers are unable to access the care and information they need. Employees are looking for a simplified solution to receive care, rather than navigate fragmented solutions. In fact, more than half (55%) said they feel overwhelmed when navigating the healthcare system. This could be why just 19% of employees used their company’s mental health care benefits in 2022, and only 37% received preventive care.
In 2023, mental health and preventive care remain top priorities for employees. But in order to make progress toward better health, workers will need to overcome some significant barriers to receiving care. Fortunately, many HR leaders said they’ll be investing in primary care (56%), care navigation (50%), and other healthcare solutions this year.
Despite these positive steps, the survey uncovered a notable lack of awareness around the important role primary care providers (PCPs) can play in treating mental and behavioral health. PCPs can screen, diagnose, and often treat these issues, and they can guide patients to the right kind of specialty care as needed. However, 55% of employees and 66% of HR leaders inaccurately believe that these providers either play no role in treating these issues, or they can only screen for them.
Healthcare complexity is hurting workers and the bottom line
Employees aren’t getting the care they need, and employers are paying the price:
- 3 out of 4 employees said their health worsened or stayed the same in 2022: Specifically, around one-third reported that their physical health (34%) and mental health (32%) worsened and over 40% said their health stayed the same. Just one-quarter felt that their health improved.
- Employees’ poor mental health is taking a toll on their productivity: 64% of workers said they’re struggling with mental or behavioral health issues. 91% of these employees said they’re less productive due to their mental or behavioral health issues, with 45% reporting a productivity loss of more than 5 hours a week.
- Low benefits usage is part of the problem: In 2022, just 19% of workers used their benefits for mental health care and only 37% received preventive care. Over half (55%) of employees said they feel overwhelmed when they try to navigate the healthcare system.
The path forward
97% of HR leaders agreed that providing healthcare benefits that are high-quality, patient-centered, and a good value increases job satisfaction, employee engagement, and their ability to recruit and retain employees. Here are the improvements companies are making this year:
- 56% are adding solutions for primary care: Around 9 out of 10 employees (89%) and HR leaders (91%) said it’s important to receive regular primary care, citing benefits like better health, increased productivity, and long-term healthcare savings. However, 1 out of 5 workers don’t have a primary care provider.
- Companies are providing other solutions that align with employee needs: In addition to primary care, HR leaders said they’re adding solutions for chronic disease management (55%), telemedicine (53%), care navigation (50%), and mental & behavioral health (48%). In fact, HR’s #1 strategic priority for 2023 is to improve their employees’ healthcare experience through care navigation solutions.
- Employers are also prioritizing improving their communication efforts: Just 50% of employees said they’re aware of “all” or “most” of their employer’s healthcare offerings. For 2023, HR leaders said improving awareness and communication around their benefits is their #2 strategic priority.
Businesses also need to ensure that everyone at their organization understands that primary care providers can screen, diagnose, and treat people for mental and behavioral health issues. The study revealed that a significant percentage of respondents — 55% of employees and 66% of HR leaders — incorrectly believe these providers either play no role in treating these issues, or they can only screen for them.
“Mental and physical health are fundamentally linked, and employees need easy access to comprehensive primary care to help manage their whole health – from preventive and acute care to chronic disease and mental health care management. That’s why One Medical offers seamless in-person, digital and virtual care services that have proven to increase engagement, improve health outcomes and lower costs.” – Andrew Diamond, Chief Medical Officer, One Medical
“Employers have come a long way in their support of employees’ mental health, but workers aren’t making the most of the benefits available to them,” said Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence. “It’s critical that companies focus on improving care navigation – including pointing people to primary care as a first step – if they want to move the needle on this issue. Those that don’t will continue to experience productivity losses and other negative outcomes that can result from poor workforce mental health.”
Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Workplace Intelligence and Walr and paid for by 1Life Healthcare Inc. between December 6 – 19, 2022. The survey audience included 800 HR / Employee Benefits leaders and 800 employees who were working full-time, at least 18 years old, and living in the U.S. Respondents were recruited through a number of different mechanisms, via different sources to join the panels and participate in market research surveys. All panelists have passed a double opt-in process and complete on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys. Respondents were invited to take part via email and were provided with a small monetary incentive for doing so. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 0.8 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
About One Medical
One Medical is a U.S. national human-centered and technology-powered primary care organization with seamless digital health and inviting in-office care, convenient to where people work, shop, live, and click. One Medical’s vision is to delight millions of members with better health and better care while reducing costs, within a better team environment. One Medical’s mission is to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered model. Headquartered in San Francisco, 1Life Healthcare, Inc. is the administrative and managerial services company for the affiliated One Medical physician-owned professional corporations that deliver medical services in-office and virtually. 1Life and the One Medical entities do business under the “One Medical” brand.
About Workplace Intelligence
Workplace Intelligence is an award-winning thought leadership and research agency focused on the world of work. We help companies, and their executives, tell their workplace story in a meaningful, relevant, and impactful way using primary data, insights, and interviews. For more information go to our website and subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter.