Workplace mental health program linked to benefits for employees, employers
Babich Morrow reported being employed by and holding equity in Spring Care. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
Enrollment in a workplace mental health program was linked to improvements in symptoms of anxiety and depression and resulted in positive return on investment for employers, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.
“In the past few decades, the number of employers offering wellness benefits has increased considerably,” Cecina Babich Morrow, BA, a data scientist at Spring Health in New York, and colleagues wrote.
Researchers sought to examine whether employer-sponsored mental health programs were associated with improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression, return on investment (ROI), productivity on the job, as well as to investigate the factors associated with clinical improvement in the pre and post pandemic period.
The cohort study included 1,132 individuals who enrolled in an online workplace mental health program, Spring Care, which was implemented by 66 employers in 40 states between January 2018 and January 2021. Eligible participants identified mental health outcomes such as anxiety and depression through a digital screening platform, completed both the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 with baseline scores of 10 or higher, and had at least one appointment with an online therapist from the workplace program. ROI was measured with the Sheehan Disability Scale. Data were subsequently collected during a 6-month follow-up and analyzed using mixed-effects regression.
Results showed that participants reported improvements from pretreatment to posttreatment in depression (b=6.34; 95% CI, 6.76 to 5.91; Cohen d=1.11; 95% CI, 1.18 to 1.03) and anxiety (b=6.28; 95% CI, 6.77 to 5.91; Cohen d=1.21; 95% CI, 1.30 to 1.13). Changes in symptoms per log-day of treatment were similar in the post–COVID-19 period compared with the pre–COVID-19 interval for both depression (b=0.14; 95% CI, 0.10 to 0.38) and anxiety (b=0.08; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.38). Data also revealed that workplace salary savings at 6 months at the federal median wage was $3,440 (95% CI, $2,730-$4,151) with positive ROI across all wage groups.
“These findings suggest that employer-sponsored workplace mental health programs may be beneficial for both employers and employees,” Babich Morrow and colleagues wrote.