Mental Health Benefits Untapped by Many Workers, Study Finds

By: Caroline Colvin, Reporter for HR Dive

Amid an ongoing mental health crisis sparked by the pandemic, research suggests more than half of workers aren’t accessing their company’s mental health benefits.

While a majority of workers access their healthcare benefits, mental health resources often go untapped, research suggests. OneMedical’s 2023 State of Workplace Health report collected responses from 800 HR and benefits leaders and 800 full-time employees.

Most respondents reported using the benefits package for “routine” care — more than preventive care, and more than care related to COVID-19, chronic conditions, or mental health. For context, 61% of survey-takers accessed routine care, compared to 19% of workers who said they accessed mental health care.

When asked why they avoided using their mental well-being benefits, 22% cited costs, 25% said they were embarrassed and 45% pointed to packed schedules.

Per the data, some workers may be falling through the cracks. Since the pandemic’s onset, mental health in the U.S. has been on a recorded decline. As HR Dive previously reported, pandemic-related stress and anxiety reigned throughout 2021. Notably, from the pandemic’s onset to February 2022, Google searches for “how to ask for a mental health day” jumped by 1,000%.

In summer 2022, Human Resources professionals largely told the Society for Human Resource Management they were prioritizing mental health benefits going forward.

To be fair, about 1 in 4 respondents to OneMedical’s March 2023 survey said their mental health has improved over the last year. But almost half of respondents said their mental health stayed the same throughout 2022 and 32% said their mental health worsened.

Most Human Resources lead respondents expressed a belief that their staff’s mental well-being had improved in 2022. “This indicates that leaders may not appreciate the extent to which their team members may be struggling with their health,” researchers noted.

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Written by
Lizeth George
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