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Financial Incentives Can Improve Mental Health Engagement for Workplace

Jul 16
Healthy habits and choices seem logical and readily available these days, however it still seems impossible to take that step towards improving your overall wellbeing. In the workplace, many considerate employers offer benefits such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), counselling services, Wellness programs, and mental health support programs such as FeelingBetterNow® to make support available for employees. Employees often have the option of using different services, taking Health Risk Assessments, and completing mental health assessments for themselves and family members. Even with evidence-based tools available at their fingertips, it is often observed by EAPs that utilization of their program is low (around 3%).

The problem isn’t that the programs aren’t valuable nor is it that people don’t like “free stuff.” It seems that people prefer to be rewarded for taking care of their health much more than being rewarded by good health. Specifically, financial incentives are more likely to promote behavioural changes when it comes to workplace health.

Dr. Scott D. Halpern, MD, PHD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and his colleagues tested this idea of financial incentives with a smoking cessation program. Over 50 companies took part in one of four smoking-cessation interventions. Study participants were randomly placed in one of the following interventions: free cessation aid; free e-cigarettes; free cessation aids plus $600 in rewards for sustained abstinence; or free cessation aids plus $600 in redeemable funds, with money removed if cessation milestones were not met. Dr. Halpern and his team found the sustained abstinence rates among participants given free cessation aid plus $600 in redeemable funds were statistically significant compared to the other three interventions, indicating a real impact on using financial incentives.

The results of this “suggest that employers could make their wellness programs more effective by offering money to get their employees to stop smoking instead of or in addition to cessation aids,” Dr. Halpern told Psychiatric News.

This theory can be widely applied across different types of mental health programs, including FeelingBetterNow®. Investing in incentives for employees to engage with mental health tools and other employer programs is an investment in preventing long, difficult cases of Long-Term and Short-Term Disability Cases. For example, employees, who are part of a financial incentive program might visit their mental health tool for regular assessments and check-ins, are able to identify and mental health concerns early on and act to prevent having to go off work and suffer from severe, untreated mental health problems.

Incentive programs are part of the roster of engagement strategies available for employers with FeelingBetterNow®. With over 10 years of experience marketing to employees and tailoring to a diverse customer base, Mensante’s team can use the latest in best practices to effective engage staff with their mental health and promote positive behavioural changes.
 

Full Article Link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1715757

Kathleen Qu, M.Sc

Kathleen Qu is the Product Manager of FeelingBetterNow. She has a background in global health and policy research. She is an advocate in breaking down barriers for mental health access.