DMEC Behavioral Health Survey: Mental Health Issues Remain an Employer Challenge

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The 2016 DMEC Behavioral Health Survey reveals that mental health issues continue to test employers. Stigma and program effectiveness identified as ongoing challenges.

Approximately 1 in 5 people are dealing with a mental health situation on a daily basis, and studies show that people with depression have a 2.5 times higher risk of on-the-job injury. Many companies continue to struggle with the best ways to address mental health issues in the workplace, including managing absenteeism and presenteeism, driving down medical costs and related costs for these issues, and supporting employees in distress.

Mental health issues are often not the primary medical diagnosis but influence recovery and return to work, and because mental health issues often go “under the radar”, their impact may not be captured in claims data. Given that employees are spending more than half of their day at work, inadequate staffing, low increases in pay, and high job expectations are proving to have a significant impact on stress-related physical and psychological illnesses.

The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) coined the term “Behavioral Risk Management” in 2006 to describe employer efforts to address and minimize the costs attached with illness, absence, and disability caused by mental health conditions. In the same year, DMEC also released its inaugural survey of members, now conducted biennially, to determine trends in behavioral health in the workplace.

The 2016 DMEC Behavioral Health Survey results continue to support DMEC’s conclusion that workplace mental health is an important area of concern for companies. Major survey findings include:

  •     86% of employers are interested in the associated risks that mental health has on the workplace.
  •     56% of respondents include a mental health management component in their absence management program.
  •     74% of respondents provide health coverage for mental health within their medical plan compared to 13.3% that have a separate “carve-out” mental health plan.
  •     84% of respondents provide substance abuse coverage.
  •     49.5% of respondents provide disease management or case management for chronic pain conditions.
  •     46% of respondents offer disease management or case management for depression.
  •     33.5% of respondents have a disability plan that requires employees to receive treatment with an appropriate care provider for mental health disability claims.
  •     97% of respondents provide employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  •     58% of respondents feel that workplace mental health stigma has stayed the same over the last two years, 18% feel it has decreased, 15% feel it has increased, and 9% feel no stigma exists.
  •     39% of respondents feel that media attention to violence is the most important perception increasing workplace mental health stigma.

About the 2016 DMEC Behavioral Health Survey
A total of 213 employers participated in the survey. Large employers (over 10,000 employees) make up the greatest percentage of participants (52%). Mid-size groups (1,000-10,000 employees) make up 37%, and small groups (less than 1,000 employees) make up 11% of respondents.

If you are a media member and would like to obtain a copy of the 2016 DMEC Behavioral Health White Paper, please contact John Jordan at jjordan(at)principor(dot)com or 202.554.5796.

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is the only association dedicated to providing focused education, knowledge, and networking for absence and disability professionals. Through its national education programs and network of local chapters, DMEC delivers trusted strategies, tools, and resources to minimize lost work time, improve workforce productivity, and maintain legally compliant absence and disability programs. Visit for more information.

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John Jordan
Principor Communications
+1 (202) 554-5796
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