Spring Health Solutions

Rethinking Global EAPs: Why the Old System Needs a New Vision

Global mental health disparities arise from barriers such as cost, accessibility, and stigma, and the cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic context of employees influences their impact. To address mental health effectively, organizations need a unified global EAP that balances consistency across regions.

Written by
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Chloe Rowshani
Global Product Marketing
Clinically reviewed by
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    Leading global organizations are recognizing that employee well-being is the driving force behind a company’s health—and establishing a comprehensive employee assistance program (EAP) is fundamental to achieving widespread success. 

    However, these global organizations face unique challenges, as barriers to mental health support are preventing their employees from accessing care. One in four people worldwide struggle with mental health issues, with 82% residing in low to middle income countries. In some nations, people are experiencing a 90% treatment gap. 

    Barriers to care—such as cost, accessibility, and stigma—compound mental health disparities, but their impact varies based on cultural, geographic, and socio-economic factors. 

    To effectively address mental health concerns, organizations must seamlessly connect employees with a diverse network of providers who comprehend each individual's unique lived experiences. 

    Global EAP providers fill the gaps left by traditional EAP providers, balancing localized accessibility with global consistency. Three models deserve consideration:

    • Centralized Global EAP: Operates with a central provider serving the entire global organization
    • Decentralized Global EAP: Empowers each region or subsidiary to manage it’s EAP independently
    • Hybrid Global EAP: Combines a central EAP providing core services with localized teams adapting these services to meet regional needs

    A hybrid approach to global mental healthcare allows an organization to standardize across regions while tailoring support to employee individual needs. 

    This approach is a powerful way to reach your employees worldwide, as it addresses the nuanced differences in cultural views on mental health and allows clinicians to establish a therapeutic alliance—a crucial factor in achieving treatment goals and positive outcomes worldwide. 

    Limitations of traditional global models

    As mental health providers, our mission is clear: we must tackle the pervasive stigma surrounding mental health to deliver essential care to people worldwide. 

    Stigma remains a significant global barrier to mental health support. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the strategies for addressing stigma internally and with clinical providers must be tailored to each region’s unique culture.

    For example, some countries perceive mental illness as a threat, associating it with danger and unpredictability. In contrast, others view it through a lens of spiritual weakness. Both viewpoints lead to discrimination and internalized shame, but the subtle distinctions between them guide our approach to crafting effective treatment plans.

    Global EAPs play a pivotal role in enhancing employee well-being and productivity by proactively addressing the diverse cultural needs and nuances surrounding mental health. Furthermore, these initiatives yield significant cost savings for employers, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved.

    Key elements of a modern, global EAP

    Our responses must adapt to our ever-evolving understanding of mental health in the workplace. Global EAPs create a diverse provider network capable of addressing the shifting barriers to access, which vary from region to region.

    On the other hand, traditional employee assistance programs have limitations. Their inability to offer local services to global employees can hinder meaningful discussions about mental health. Cultural, language, and geographical barriers exacerbate challenges, such as cost and informed awareness

    International employee assistance programs are uniquely positioned to tackle another significant barrier: low utilization rates, which hover below 10% despite the prevalence of these services in most companies.

    Furthermore, one-fourth of global employees lack awareness of available resources or individuals responsible for their well-being in the workplace. 

    A critical question for leadership teams to ask is, how will our global employees use this benefit if it’s not:

    • Geographically accessible?
    • Offered in their language?
    • Connecting them with clinicians who understand their cultural norms, religious beliefs, and social values?

    For a therapeutic alliance to form, clinicians must not only be readily available, but also capable of understanding and responding to employees’ diverse cultural perspectives, genders, religious beliefs, and unique lived experiences. This approach ensures meaningful support for employees across the globe. 

    How our global EAP approach works

    The 2023 Edelman Report sheds light on a significant challenge: 77% of individuals identify cost, exacerbated by inflation, as a primary obstacle to achieving optimal health. Consequently, employees increasingly turn to their workplaces for comprehensive well-being support, encompassing themselves and their families. 

    Spring Health enables global organizations to deliver accessible, timely care tailored to local cultures. By doing so, we remove barriers to care for our members’ employees. According to a recent study that is the largest of its kind, for every $1.00 invested in Spring Health, our customers saved $2.20 on their health plan spend. These savings escalated to nearly $4.10, resulting in a remarkable 22% reduction in turnover and a 12% reduction in absenteeism. 

    Unlike many global EAP solutions, which often subject employees to lengthy waiting periods, Spring Health’s EAP ensures swift global access to care. Utilizing care navigators and personalized provider matching, we connect members with clinicians within two days of their initial contact, matching them with local, in-country professionals. 

    “I have used many different counselors over my lifespan, and my Spring Health therapist is the best I have ever had.” - Australia-based Spring Health member.

    This sentiment echoes the experience of 96% of our members, who chose to continue with the clinician matched with them through our AI-powered provider recommendations.

    A unified global EAP approach with real impact

    By achieving a delicate balance between global consistency and regional relevance, global companies can offer employees clinician support that is aligned with their cultural values and social norms.

    The language we use when discussing mental health holds immense importance. It forms the foundation to overcome stigma. To effectively support employee well-being, our conversations must be culturally relevant, resonating with individuals from all backgrounds.

    Our data-driven approach, emphasizing measurement-based care, reveals that a unified global employee assistance program is the most effective strategy for overcoming substantial barriers to mental health care. This approach enhances employee satisfaction and delivers a 2.2x return on investment in health plan spending alone.

    When evaluating a global employee assistance program for organizational compatibility, here are some key questions to ask:

    • Does the EAP offer on-site service delivery?
    • Will leadership receive direct communication and support?
    • Do employees receive timely, knowledgeable responses and crisis interventions?
    • Can the EAP track outcomes effectively? 
    • Does the EAP take a comprehensive wellness approach?
    • Are the results empirically proven?

    Discover more about how innovative EAPs break down barriers to mental health and drive up utilization.

    About the Author
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    Chloe Rowshani
    Global Product Marketing

    A Los Angeles native living in San Francisco the past decade, Chloe has managed product marketing and community development with early startups, fortune 500s, and government agencies, across various sectors, including law, entertainment, nonprofit, and technology. She is passionate about holistic wellbeing and mental health, and spends her free time coaching others in their career pivots, pursuing her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, and enjoying the great outdoors.

    About the clinical reviewer
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