From anxiety to the opioid epidemic, mental health conditions represent some of the most common and costliest health issues in the United States. Yet employers often feel like they do not have the tools to adequately address this monumental problem. With 20 percent of U.S. adults living with a mental health condition — which increases annual individual healthcare costs significantly — employers can no longer ignore the silent challenges millions of employees battle every day.
We recently hosted a webinar, “Beyond the EAP: How top employers are revolutionizing mental health,” with our customer Sprint. With 30,000 employees nationwide, Sprint shared their experience with addressing mental health challenges in their workforce and how they have become a leader in providing employee mental health programs.
We recently spoke with Nathan Hays, Sprint’s manager of health & productivity about the company’s insights on mental health in its employee population, as well as opportunities, strategies, and programs it implements to create a supportive environment for Sprint employees.
Castlight: How do you create a culture of wellbeing at Sprint?
Nathan Hays: At Sprint, we’re obsessed with creating awesome solutions that deliver amazing experiences for our customers and unleashing the power of technology to help them move forward each and every day. We apply the same level of passion to support our employees and create a workplace centered on their wellbeing and mental health. How do we achieve this? By continuously monitoring and analyzing aggregated and anonymized claims data, health risk assessment data, employee assistance plan reports, and more to develop the most accurate picture possible of their mental health needs and guide them to the right resources.
Castlight: How many Sprint employees experience mental health conditions?
Nathan Hays: Over the past three years, Sprint’s data has hovered around 11 percent of our employees across three of our divisions — corporate, customer management, and sales and distribution — seeking treatment for mental health conditions. However, a greater percentage (approximately 20 percent) of our employees in these three divisions have self-reported through health risk assessments that they are in need of mental health services. Furthermore, we analyzed turnover across these three divisions and found that employees who were on our health plan for less than 18 months (because they either transferred to another health plan or left the company) had the highest prevalence of depression and anxiety. These employees were typically millennials working in our retail sector. Lastly, the second highest topic our employees search for on Castlight, our health navigation platform, is psychological and psychiatric care, after primary care for adults.
All of these insights were eye opening. They showed how much our employee population demands mental health solutions. And they demonstrate the importance of engaging with our new hire population as soon as possible to educate them on the mental health resources available to them through Sprint health and wellness benefits.
Castlight: How have you addressed mental health in your workforce?
Nathan Hays: Armed with this data, we identified solutions that unleash the power of technology to help move our employees forward each and every day towards optimal mental health and wellbeing.
For example, the Castlight personalization engine reconciles an employee’s claim history and search history on the Castlight health navigation platform, evaluates their program eligibility (through their medical plan and our EAP), identifies their risk factor, and sends them personalized communication based on their preferred communications channels — via email, push notification, or through the Castlight app. If an employee is identified as low risk for a mental health disorder, they’re prompted to take a quiz to assess their current mental health; if they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, they’re reminded of resources available to them; and if they’re at high risk; they’re reminded they can confidentially search for therapists in their area. Our data shows that this personalized messaging has resulted in 2.5 times the engagement in 12 months.
Castlight’s behavior health solution, Elevate and myStrength further provide our employees additional options for self-care. We have seen over 2,000 engagement activities in Elevate and over 400 employees have registered for myStrength, a behavioral therapy health site that automatically searches providers in our EAP and the employee’s medical plan and recommends mental health providers in both networks so the employee can use both benefits and there’s no disruption in their care.
Yes, mental health is challenging — on employers and employees alike. By leveraging data and technology, employers can deliver mental health and well-being solutions that improve employee well-being, productivity, and your company’s bottom line.