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We're in the middle of a global mental health crisis.
Depression and anxiety alone cost companies a staggering $1 trillion globally in lost productivity. Furthermore, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 people worldwide suffers from a mental health condition, indicating the vast scale of this issue.
A convergence of factors influence the global mental health crisis. The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic—characterized by social isolation, fear of infection, loss of loved ones, and economic uncertainties—has contributed to a surge in anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
Additionally, the economic instability resulting from job losses, business closures, and financial insecurities have compounded the trauma and stress experienced by individuals and communities globally.
These factors have created a pressing need for employers to prioritize employee mental health and well-being like never before. As employees reassess their priorities and seek support for themselves and their families, mental health support has become a crucial requirement on a global scale.
In fact, a 2023 survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG, involving 3,400 people across ten countries, found that two-thirds of employees would accept reduced pay if it meant having a job with better mental health support.
Barriers to global mental health care
As companies increasingly recognize the significance of prioritizing mental health services for their employees, it’s essential to acknowledge the barriers that hinder access to global mental health care. Here are six of the most common global barriers to care.
Discrimination and stigma
Stigma remains a significant barrier to global mental health care. While medical acceptance has increased in recent decades, many people still view mental illness as a moral fault.
Cultural beliefs and practices further contribute to this challenge, as individuals fear judgment and rejection within their communities. For example, in some cultures, mental illness is still seen as a sign of weakness or a spiritual issue, preventing individuals from seeking appropriate care and support.
Despite the economic benefits of investing in mental health services, only 2% of health budgets are allocated toward mental health services.
As a result, the financial burden to pay for mental health services often falls on the individual. High costs for therapy sessions, medication, and hospitalization make it challenging for people with limited resources to access the care they need, perpetuating health disparities.
Shortage of trained providers
The shortage of mental health professionals is a critical concern worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global average is 13 mental health workers per 100,000 population, with even lower rates in low-income countries.
This shortage severely limits access to mental health care, resulting in long wait times and inadequate support for those in need.
Limited accessibility and availability
Accessibility to mental health services is a pressing issue, particularly in low-middle income countries where 85% of people lack access to mental healthcare services. In contrast, in high-income countries, half of the population fails to receive the necessary care they need to be healthy and productive.
In rural or remote areas, access to mental health care can be severely limited or non-existent, leaving individuals with few options for support.
Language and communication barriers
Around the world, there are over 7,000 languages spoken, creating challenges in providing linguistically appropriate services. This issue is particularly relevant in multicultural societies where individuals may struggle to express their mental health concerns or understand treatment options.
Language access services and trained interpreters help bridge this gap for diverse populations, but even these workers can be limited in their availability.
Lack of awareness and education
According to the WHO, of their 194 member states, only 52% have met the target of implementing a mental health promotion and prevention program. Additionally, the lack of mental health education in schools and communities leads to misunderstandings, delayed help-seeking, and stigmatization.
Investing in mental health literacy and awareness campaigns can help reduce barriers and promote early intervention and support.
Localizing global mental health
When evaluating a mental health solution, global companies must consider the complexities of cultural nuance, norms, and local regulations. While virtual therapy has become commonplace, the effectiveness of care is significantly enhanced when therapists truly understand an employee’s cultural background, beliefs, and values.
For many individuals, articulating their emotions and feelings is already an immense challenge. The additional burden of bridging the gap between cultural differences only intensifies the stress.
Furthermore, cultural norms and expectations play a pivotal role in determining when, why, and how individuals seek support. Employees must be free to choose a localized provider who comprehends their language, traditions, spirituality, and social customs.
By valuing the impact of cultural differences, companies create an environment that enables employees to seek support from providers who grasp their cultural context.
Choosing a global mental health solution
With so many options, it can be difficult—and overwhelming—to cut through the noise. Here are four key elements HR professionals and organizational leaders can look for when evaluating a global mental health solution.
Streamlined administration of global benefits
When selecting a global mental health solution, it’s important for organizations to consider the administration of their worldwide benefits. This means looking for features that make managing mental health benefits across different regions easier and more efficient.
Here are several factors to consider:
- Centralized platform: look for a centralized solution to manage mental health benefits across different regions. This platform should allow efficient tracking, reporting, and benefits administration, simplifying the overall management process.
- Account management teams with regional expertise: opt for a solution that provides account management teams with in-depth knowledge of regional nuances. These teams should understand each location’s cultural, regulatory, and legal aspects to ensure seamless implementation and ongoing support.
- On-demand digital tools and resources: ensure employees have access to on-demand digital tools and resources supporting their mental well-being. These resources could include self-help guides, educational materials, and meditation exercises, empowering employees to access support whenever they need it.
- Direct connection to clinicians: choose a solution that enables employees to speak directly with mental health clinicians. By bypassing administrative hurdles, employees can quickly receive timely care, reducing delays and enhancing the overall experience.
- Streamlined access to local services: prioritize a solution that facilitates streamlined access to local services. This could involve partnerships with local providers and clinics, ensuring employees can easily access culturally sensitive care that aligns with their specific needs and preferences.
Member-centric, personalized care
No two employees are exactly alike. The right benefits provider understands that mental health support is a journey, not a quick detour.
Healing should always be the priority, regardless of the locale. To be effective, mental healthcare must be delivered in a precise, nuanced fashion tailored to the specific needs of each employee.
At Spring Health, our care network consists of Master’s-level clinicians who speak the local languages and can provide guidance and personalized support to help employees feel better, faster.
All clinicians are highly-vetted and continually evaluated based on clinical outcomes and member satisfaction. They provide therapeutic interventions upon outreach and are knowledgeable about the local benefits programs and available resources.
Spring Health also offers employees and their families access to dedicated Care Navigators who are available 24/7, providing unlimited support in a variety of ways—including making care recommendations and assessing and de-escalating risk during a crisis.
Spring Health’s network is built on the pillars of quality, accessibility, and diversity, ensuring employees and their families have rapid access to care from a world-class team.
Rather than simply focusing on symptom reduction, our clinicians take a goal-directed, strengths-based approach to care that fosters well-being. Data powers everything we do, including how we evaluate the efficacy and quality of our providers globally.
Simplified, fast access
The top global mental health providers make it easy to access their services. From teletherapy via the web or phone to making appointments quickly, service should be prompt and readily accessible.
The Spring Health experience is localized so employees and their families can quickly access local resources in their preferred language. When an employee logs in to the Spring Health platform, they can schedule an appointment, reach out to their Care Navigator, and access on-demand digital CBT exercises, all in one place.
Engagement tailored to local audiences
Utilization is one of the top challenges facing global benefits leaders. Localized marketing efforts drive employee awareness and excitement through proven strategies and relevant communications.
Spring Health's specialized training for managers ensures that people leaders in every region know when and how to refer employees to their mental health benefits. We also partner with our customers to establish strategic engagement plans so culturally-relevant communications and messaging can be used to reach international populations.
Built for the future of work
Mental health support is a critical factor in attracting and retaining top talent globally.
Spring Health’s precision technology, integrated global care network, and end-to-end support system for employees and their loved ones are built for the future of work—and for the world’s most forward-thinking, global organizations.
Quick and efficient access to culturally-responsive mental healthcare makes an incremental difference in fostering a positive and engaged global workforce.