Ways to Address Behavioral Health Holistically

A diverse group of employees sitting around a conference room table, celebrating some behavioral health achievements.

Employee health is at the forefront of many employers’ minds. But healthy, happy, productive employees need more than just medical care. It’s important to take a broad approach by offering essential behavioral health services. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. 

There are several hurdles that make it harder to get employees to take advantage of behavioral health care. They need to understand how physical and mental health contribute to overall well-being, and that services are available and easy to access. Employers should also focus on building a culture that supports mental health and well-being, and work to combat longstanding stigmas that keep people from getting the help they need. Take these steps to improve access to critical behavioral health services within your organization.

Take a full health approach in your organization

The scale of behavioral health challenges has grown so dramatically, you need a broader approach. These tips and actionable recommendations can help you address behavioral health full on by improving access to the health and wellness support your employees need, integrating care to treat the whole person, reducing stigma, and creating cultural support for a healthier, more productive workforce.

Put access to care front and center

Expand resources

Help employees connect with the care they needfrom expanding what your EAP provides, to considering onsite behavioral health clinicians, to including virtual care platforms, to reducing copays.

Drive awareness

When solutions go unknown, conditions often go untreated. Use internal communications to promotet he quality, affordability and effectiveness of available resources.

2 out of 5 Americans live in areas designated by the federal government as having a shortage of behavioral health providers.1

Embrace integrated care

Treat the whole person

Talk about and model healthcare solutions around the equal importance of physical and mental health, by finding opportunities to embed mental health into wellness efforts.

Connect the whole continuum

Support health plan partners that empower primary care providers to collaborate with behavioral health providers so they can coordinate care for more conditions and more employees more effectively.

The healthcare costs for treating individuals with behavioral and chronic medical conditions are 2-3X higher than for those without behavioral health conditions.2

Reduce the stigma

Start, but don’t stop, at the top

Involve senior leadership to openly talk about behavioral health, but also include workplace influencers and give managers the training to educate employees about resources and provide support.

Keep the dialogue going

Develop ongoing opportunities for your workforce to discuss mental health including new hire orientations on medical benefits, lunch-and-learns, webinars, speaker series and peer-to-peer programs.

62% of employees said having someone in a leadership role speak openly about mental health would make them feel more comfortable talking about it themselves.3

Create a culture of health

Expand non-medical benefits

Offer a broad range of benefits and perks—everything from medical benefits to non-medical offerings like tuition reimbursement and flexible hours, to support a healthier workforce.

Show that employees’ needs matter

Build a healthy environment around what your employees need. Don't just ask once—go further to create regular formal and informal opportunities for input, and take action.

Companies with engaged employees can see as much as 4.5X more revenue growth than those with low engagement levels.4

1 Martha Hostetter, Sarah Klein, “In Focus: Leveraging Technology to Expand Access to Behavioral Health Care for Medicaid Beneficiaries,”The Commonwealth Fund, 2019.

2 Stoddard Davenport, et al. “Potential Economic Impact of Integrated Medical-Behavioral Healthcare,” Milliman, 2017.

3 Denise Brodey, “62% of Employees Want Leadership To Speak Openly About Mental Health,” Forbes, 2019.

4 Molly Delaney, Mark Royal, “Keeping employees engaged and positioned,” Korn Ferry Hay Group, 2019.

Giving full health our full attention

The continued growth of behavioral health conditions across all generations means the time for action is now. Finding solutions that improve health outcomes for your employees and lower costs for your organization will require a full-onapproach. We’re here to help. Explore our latest eBook and suite of resources designed to help you take behavioral health head-on at


Originally Posted: on BCBS Smarter Better Health Care and is used with permission.