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We recognize July as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Mental Health Month and use it as an opportunity to educate and bring awareness to the unique mental health challenges that underrepresented groups across America are facing. While everyone can be affected by mental health issues, Black individuals are one community disproportionately impacted.
Black Americans are more likely to experience serious mental health issues than other racial groups and nearly half have struggled with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traditional approaches often fail to address these disparities and access to care is a significant challenge. Only one in three Black Americans experiencing mental health challenges receive care due to multiple barriers, including stigma.
Stigma around mental health is generally greater among racial and ethnic minority populations, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Fortunately, pharmacy benefits plan sponsors have a unique opportunity to increase access to mental health care. Here are five things plan sponsors can do now.
One: Understand the business case.
Addressing mental health is a business imperative. Health care and low productivity due to stress costs employers $300 billion per year.
Two: Fight culture with culture.
A safe and transparent organizational culture, in which managers and leaders openly acknowledge and discuss their own journeys to achieve mental well-being, can help to reduce stigma. More than half of Americans (53 percent) agree that hearing about other people’s challenges make them more comfortable seeking care for themselves.
Three: Provide robust resources and remind plan members of them frequently.
Fewer than 20 percent of employees who report burnout are using company benefits for mental health.
Four: Leverage varied channels and technology.
Mental health services have become more accessible as comfort with telehealth and virtual care increases. In a recent CVS Health/Morning Consult survey, 56 percent of Americans agree that society has become more comfortable using digital tools to improve mental health; and 63 percent agree that society has become more comfortable using telemedicine for therapy.
Five: Partner with CVS Health.
As a health care innovation company that touches more than 100 million people across our lines of business, we have the ability to improve the trajectory of health for people in America and provide more equitable and accessible health care services.
CVS Health has made a strong commitment to health equity across the enterprise; mental health is a key pillar of our strategy. Our holistic approach, including touchpoints both physical – through CVS Pharmacy, MinuteClinic and HealthHUBs – and digital – through our connectivity with millions of patients and providers – can support plan sponsors in their efforts to make mental health more accessible to members and their families. Our vision for a new kind of primary care at CVS Health wraps mental health services into a care team model designed to provide wraparound services for patients.
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