Mon. Feb 6th, 2023

At the same time, patients and employees are asking for more help. In 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan reported a 27 percent increase in the use of mental health services among its 4.3 million members.

Moran Marsh provides group sessions to employers — including Alix Partners, Plunkett Cooney and Walbridge Co. — to cover more minds.

“When we look at empirically validated ways of therapy, it can be taught to a mass group,” she said. “I know the tools and can tell employees about the value of sleep, leisure and eating well. How you feel and how you behave are interconnected, so if we can improve one we can improve the other.”

With an estimated 40 percent of Michigan residents suffering from untreated mental illness, these experts believe providing help on the clock in a work environment could improve service use at a time when violence and other extreme events around the country are occurring.

“Making it easier for people is the key,” said Coffman, of Lockton Michigan. “I can now see a therapist on my lunch break instead of trying to find time among the growing obligations of children, school and family.”

The most common reason for an individual to not seek mental healthcare is cost, potentially limiting who can access mental healthcare based on the size and sophistication of their employers, Coffman said.

“What drives people out of having this care is when they have to pay out of pocket,” she said. “Small employers usually offer high deductible plans where the workers usually have to pay the full cost of that mental health visit. If it’s a question of rent or milk, a therapist drops off the necessity list.”

But Coffman said the increase in workplace violence proves the importance of these efforts and she urges smaller companies to join the fray.

In 2019, about one-fourth of American workers experienced at least one incident of workplace violence, according to a survey by theSociety for Human Resource Management. In 2021, the number approached 30 percent.

Coffman said the best way to increase mental health services is for management to be better trained and more engaged in the services.

“An equal challenge is not just what they offer but how you engage all levels of management to identify when an employee is struggling and do something,” she said.

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Detroit Business.

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