Catalyst for Payment Reform

Collaborative 2: Mental Health

Many employers struggle to manage mental health issues within their population, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and resiliency, which are overwhelmingly common in the workforce today.  There is a shortage of high quality mental health providers today and other barriers, such as stigma, that prevent employees from seeking care.  As increasing numbers of solutions crop up to fill these gaps, CPR kept hearing that employers weren’t  sure how to evaluate which ones will help meaningfully address the problem and how they fit into a more holistic strategy. 

In spring of 2017, we kicked off Collaborative 2: “Identifying High-Value Strategies and Solutions for Mental Health” to define standards for what high value mental health care looks like and help employers assess their options in the marketplace. 


Eight employers are actively seeking higher-value mental health care, including publicly traded companies, public purchasers, and state retiree and employee organizations.   The group benefited from the expertise of our dedicated subject matter expert, Mary Kay O’Neill, MD, MBA, Senior Clinical Advisor, Total Health Management at Mercer

Description of our work

Catalyst for Payment Reform convened this group monthly to learn from each other and discuss the major gaps in mental health care today.  We started by doing a collective root cause analysis to better understand what factors contribute to mental health issues within their population. The group identified three primary goals for our collective efforts, including : 1) minimizing access and navigation barriers, 2) ensuring high quality care to maximize outcomes, and 3) approaching mental health holistically, including integration with medical care.

The collaborative then defined clear standards and expectations to evaluate mental health service providers against, including health plans, behavioral health carriers, telehealth providers, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and navigation and digital solutions.

Final deliverable- now available for purchasers!

Catalyst for Payment Reform has completed its Tool for Evaluating High-Value Mental Health Solutions.   The tool includes specifications and RFI questions that employers and other health care purchasers can use to evaluate and push health plans and carriers, employee assistance programs (EAPs), telehealth providers of mental health services, digital solutions, and navigation support.