Clearing the path to care to address behavioral health disconnect

With greater cultural transparency on behavioral health, stigma around seeking treatment is diminishing. However, a concerning number of consumers report their behavioral health has deteriorated.

As conversations around behavioral health are becoming more normalized, there’s a heightened focus to ensure that consumers are getting the support they need to achieve the best mental health possible. Even with the emphasis by both consumers and plan sponsors, our latest research shows that they’re facing challenges and mental health is still largely declining. In partnership with Ipsos, Evernorth conducted a nationwide survey of more than 3,600 consumers, employers and health plan leaders to understand the challenges at the forefront of health care today.

This valuable data targets specific concerns plan sponsors should keep in mind to stay ahead of market dynamics that have a potential impact on their members and plans.

A concerning decline in behavioral health

A concerning 43% of consumers report that their mental health declined over the past year. This seems to defy concerted efforts.

Plan sponsors are acutely aware of the vital role behavioral health plays in overall well-being, but they are continuing to align on the resources to best support consumers' ongoing behavioral health needs.

Efforts to invest in behavioral health services

Health plan leaders continue to prioritize behavioral health offerings and solutions, but they will need to calibrate that investment with consumers' changing needs in the next two to three years ahead. Areas of focus for investment include:

Overestimating consumer satisfaction

Plan sponsors appear to be overestimating consumers’ degree of satisfaction with behavioral health support and benefits. Employers and health plans rated consumers’ perceived satisfaction with their behavioral health benefits as 85% and 84%, respectively, when in reality, consumers reported a 68% degree of satisfaction with their behavioral health benefits. At the same time, roughly three-quarters of plan sponsors express concern that those same consumers are not fully utilizing the benefits available to them.

Generational perspectives on behavioral health

Although no age group is quite as engaged in their mental health as Gen Z, 61% of Gen Z respondents stated that their mental health has declined in recent years. That percentage drops with age for Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomer respondents. This may be attributed to the fact that older respondents tends to be relatively settled in their careers, finances and relationships with fewer uncertainties compared to the younger groups.

While younger consumers are actively engaged in improving their emotional well-being, they continue to struggle. Compared to other age groups, children and adolescents had seven times the rate of increase in suicide ideation (21% to 3%) and six times the rate of increase in suicide attempts (26% to 4%) from 2020 to 2021.1

As plan sponsors evaluate their investment in behavioral health for the coming years, they may wish to devote additional resources to address the specific circumstances and vulnerabilities of every employee age segment.

Key takeaways

Plan sponsors have an opportunity to guide consumers through their health care journey and provide a more cohesive and higher standard of care delivery.

  • Consumers report a significant decline in their mental health over the last year. It will be important for plan sponsors to address consumers’ changing needs.
  • When it comes to implementing future behavioral health resources, plan sponsors may wish to consider age-specific outreach and education efforts. While younger consumers appear to be participating in efforts to address their behavioral health, they are much more likely than older consumers to report challenges.

Click here to access the full 2023 Health Care in Focus report

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Evernorth Behavioral Health
Evernorth Behavioral Health takes a data-informed approach and provides personalized care across the entire continuum for the populations we serve. Our solutions help support mental health and emotional well-being by using identification models to proactively engage members, help them navigate to the right level of care, quickly — and provide quality outcomes that drive cost savings.

1 Nemecek, Douglas. (2023, February 8). “American Youth Increasingly at Risk of Suicide.”