System-wide barriers stand in the way of mental health care

St. Louis – Last year, nearly 50,000 Americans died by suicide, at a rate of 5.7 suicide deaths per hour and roughly twice the rate of homicide – the highest number ever recorded in the U.S.

Construction workers are at a particularly high risk. The suicide rate for construction workers is the second highest of any industry, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Aetna®, a CVS Health Company, is working with employers and the community-at-large to facilitate the mental and behavioral health care people need, when they need it, at an affordable cost.

Employers in St. Louis support and provide benefits to millions of people. And all of them have unique physical and mental health care needs. Unlike other health conditions or diseases, there isn’t one way to treat mental illness. The health care system can be complicated — especially for a person seeking behavioral health support.

Mental health professional shortages contribute to longer appointment wait times and difficulty finding the right type of provider. On average, an individual with mental illness in the state will also spend more out-of-pocket on health care compared to a person without mental illness. Facing issues with access, cost and care navigation adds to the mental burden of a person in crisis. It can result in more complex, expensive health care interventions down the line.

Aetna recognizes the importance of guiding members to affordable health care that is personalized for each person’s mental, physical and social needs. “Our approach to mental and behavioral health support is successful because we know there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all care,” Aetna says. “That’s why the depth and breadth of the behavioral health care resources at Aetna are unmatched.”

Aetna and Meritain Health, an Aetna company, offer:

1. Quick, convenient care. With partnerships with more than a dozen telehealth therapy vendors, employees can remotely access condition-specific therapy programs, adolescent therapy, and a wide range of other services. While telehealth is a popular option for its ease and convenience, in-person support may be right for certain people.
2. A strong, robust and reliable network of providers. Aetna’s provider network has grown at an unprecedented rate in the last several years and is now one of the largest in the nation. Since 2022, Aetna has enhanced its provider recruitment efforts and boosted its behavioral health network in Missouri by 35 percent.
3. Innovative programs that enhance the member experience. Aetna’s mental health services all involve personalized guidance based on each member’s needs and preferences. Aetna offers advanced, integrated care management and high-touch engagement support. Aetna also offers navigation assistance through Mind Companion, a single, digital entry point that lowers barriers to mental treatment by guiding people through care options. Through offerings like Resources For Living®, Aetna’s employee assistance program (EAP) and workplace well-being program, can help employees take charge of their health.

“Our dedication to helping people access the mental and behavioral health support they deserve doesn’t end with our members. Aetna is proud to partner with local organizations in the St. Louis area and throughout the state to help people get timely, affordable, high-quality care.”

Aetna partners with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of St. Louis (NAMI St Louis) to help increase mental health awareness in communities throughout the state, and also taken local action to address social determinants of health and improve health equity—like helping to ensure the community has quality housing. “Since 1999, we’ve invested $28.68 million into affordable housing across Missouri.”

Employers in St. Louis have set a new standard for mental health support by advocating for employees, fostering empathetic company cultures, offering great benefits, and reducing stigma. At Aetna, we know that without a focus on overall health, including mental well-being, people can’t bring their best selves to work. That’s why we’re driving a new standard for mental health care delivery—because healthier happens together.

If you are in the city of St. Louis and struggling with a mental health issue, there are several local resources available to help. You can find a complete listing at

For more information on Aetna policies and programs, visit

If you are having a mental health crisis, please know that you’re not alone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline ( 24 hours a day and talk to someone who will help you. Call 988 or 1-800-273-8255.

(Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Aetna is part of the CVS Health® family of companies.)

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