Can We Talk?–Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President (Part 2 of 3)


With all of the recent attention to mental health globally and nationally, this is a ‘moment in time.’ Employers are uniquely positioned to positively impact the market by articulating their expectations for high-value care and asking questions that hold their vendors accountable to high standards and positive outcomes.”

Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and last week, I kicked it off by suggesting that it’s time to talk. We have strong evidence that — despite the importance and relevance of mental health — employees are not always getting the mental health care they need to get better.

Second, we have evidence that employers (as plan sponsors and fiduciaries) do not have the information they need to be vigilant.

Here are a few examples from our 2019 Annual Employer Benefits Survey:

  1. Have you conducted an independent compliance assessment with mental health parity? Only 13% of employers have. The rest either have not or don’t know.
  2. Have you taken action to equalize reimbursement rates for mental health/substance use disorder (MH/SUD) specialist and medical surgical providers for similar services? Nearly 70% of employers either don’t know or are not considering.
  3. Has your health plan/vendor turned on all four collaborative care codes and promoted them with no employee copay? Fully 95% don’t know or aren’t considering this, despite the fact that collaborative care is a model of care delivery proven to deliver results in over 80 randomized clinical trials.

There are many other examples and data points related where “I don’t know” is the most common response regarding actions to improve mental health parity, access to care, and reimbursement. So, YES, something is wrong, and it is having a real and damaging impact on individuals, families and the workplace.

Mental health is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and Survey respondents tell us that low emotional well-being and stress are impacting the workforce in suboptimal performance at work/presenteeism (70%), more absenteeism (68%), and conflict at work (50%).

Watch for part 3 of my blog with information about what The Action Group is doing to enable meaningful conversations between employers and their health plan(s) about mental health care.


Helpful Resources for Employers