A Model for Business Equity: Elevance Health’s Investment in Employees’ Mental Health

Healthcare access disproportionately impacts the Black community and other communities of color across the Indy Region, and employers play a critical role in advancing health equity. Through the Business Equity for Indy (BEI) Impediments to Health Playbook, employers can access a roadmap of targeted interventions to support equitable outcomes, improve employee health, and benefit business. And while BEI recently honored Mental Health Month by sharing resources and recommendations to improve mental health outcomes for Indy’s Black residents and other people of color, one Indy corporation prioritizes mental health care year-round.

 

Elevance Health is headquartered in Indianapolis, and its President & CEO Gail K. Boudreaux was at the forefront of creating the Impediments to Health Playbook. Elevance Health is fueled by a bold purpose to improve the health of humanity. Their nearly 100,000 associates serve approximately 100M+ people at every stage of health through a full range of needs with an integrated whole health approach. As a large employer they also offer benefits that keep their associates healthy, happy, and productive – a goal which requires providing support for mental health.

 

Increasing access to mental health care

 

Accessing mental health services can be a challenge. Research shows that up to half of people who need mental health care are unable to access that care, a problem which disproportionately affects Black communities.

 

To address this challenge, Elevance Health provides virtual mental health visits to all associates through its health plan—at no cost. In 2023, 44% of associates who sought mental health services opted for virtual visits, reflecting the efficacy and popularity of this mode of care delivery. Associates who opted for virtual visits experienced an average wait time of under five minutes, with 90% reporting that they were able to secure a virtual visit faster than an in-office appointment, highlighting the convenience and accessibility afforded by this approach.

 

“Our associates serve more than 115 million members at every stage of health and are crucial to achieving our purpose of improving the health of humanity. Investing in a comprehensive range of health and wellness benefits, including behavioral health support and tailored resources, helps ensure associates can thrive in their personal and professional lives,” said Josh Greenwald, Chief Human Resources Officer at Elevance Health.

 

Holistic solutions

 

Employees’ mental health needs can be complex. Obstacles such as difficulty finding quality childcare, caring for aging loved ones, and balancing work and personal needs can take their toll and prevent employees from bringing their best selves to work.

 

To help its associates address day-to-day challenges, Elevance Health offers an Associate CARE Service providing immediate access to support services. The Associate CARE Service is an expanded version of what is commonly known as an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP. The program provides associates with legal help, financial counseling, and assistance finding stable housing. Elevance Health has seen that its Associate CARE Service disproportionately serves its Black associates, with 75% of those using the service reporting that the issues they were seeking help with were a source of stress.

 

Educating employees about mental health

 

Another mental health strategy described in the Impediments to Health Playbook is training and educating employees on how to self-assess their mental health. These resources help employees with life skills that build resiliency and productivity.

 

Elevance Health provides its associates with access to Learn to Live, an emotional well-being resource featuring personalized, one-on-one coaching to help employees live their happiest, healthiest lives. Paired with more traditional forms of care like mental health visits, coaching programs like these can significantly reduce mental health issues. Elevance Health saw a 21% improvement in mental health metrics for associates who used Learn to Live, including significant reductions in depression, stress and anxiety, and insomnia.

 

Stepping away

 

Even with access to all the right resources, employees sometimes need to step away from work temporarily to attend to personal issues. Elevance Health offers its associates two wellness days off per year. These days are in addition to existing paid time off, giving employees time to address personal challenges that might otherwise undermine their wellbeing and productivity over a longer period of time. Just four months after the benefit was launched, roughly a third of associates had taken a wellness day.

 

Wellness days are also a tangible example of steps a company can take to create a supportive organizational culture that reduces mental health stigma, a key strategy recommended in the Impediments to Health Playbook.

 

“Evidence from surveys and data indicates that making use of emotional health services paves the way for associates and their families to lead happier, healthier lives. It can also boost their capacity to empathize with our members more effectively – a true hallmark of success,” Greenwald said.

 

Elevance Health’s mental health programs are creative examples of an Indy-based company supporting employee wellness, but they are not the only ways to address these challenges – the Impediments to Health Playbook outlines other recommendations for businesses to explore how to best support employees. We invite you to explore the Impediments to Health Playbook on the BEI website. Learn more about Elevance Health’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on its website.

 

 

 

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