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Red, blue faces Not only would integration have the potential to improve care and timely access for employees, but it could also reduce the headache for employers who often manage multiple mental/behavioral health vendors. (Image: Shutterstock)

Long before COVID-19, mental health was a serious concern for employers and a major cost driver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depression caused an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost of $17 billion to $44 billion to employers. The pandemic escalated the crisis, as levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns skyrocketed the past year.

Yet there may be a silver lining. In an effort to support their employees throughout the pandemic, many employers have redoubled efforts to support behavioral health and reduce the stigma associated with seeking care. Meanwhile, the Council of Accountable Physician Practices, a coalition of leading medical groups, and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions have brought together self-insured employers and providers for a series of discussion forums. Together, these stakeholders brainstormed long-term solutions to improve care, including mental health care.

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