COVID: Mental Health for employees


We've been working with our clients and partners on the issue of mental health during the crisis. This update includes general guidance, a summary of changes to teletherapy and resources from insurance companies and other organizations.  

As Forbes recently reported, 45% of adults say COVID19 has affected their mental health and 19% claim it’s had a major impact. A KFF report identified key factors including concern for personal and financial safety, prolonged social isolation, and a general uncertainty around facts, solutions, and timeframe.  

CNBC reports issues like PTSD often strike after the immediate crisis has passed.  We hope this helps with any of your clients or employees that are experiencing difficulties.  

General Guidance

An employee’s first call could be to their Primary Care Physician or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  However, because of the stigma sometimes associated with mental health, employees may find telehealth a more acceptable way to engage.  Virtual therapy (teletherapy or telepsychiatry) is rising as telehealth now covers mental health.   Mental health treatments via videoconference have been approved.  Insurance companies have also begun to waive cost-sharing for treatments as well as diagnostic tests.

Insurance company resources

Aetna has approved behavioral health telemedicine services reimbursing all providers for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person visits for applicable telehealth codes, including telephone in some cases.

Blue Cross is opening access to in-network mental health counselors online or on the phone and will increase access to prescription drugs, enhanced telehealth and other clinical support systems.

Cigna is offering webinars to the general public raising awareness about tools and techniques for stress management and building resiliency, along with the ability to join telephonic mindfulness sessions.

UHC is offering a 24/7 emotional support line (866-342-6892) staffed by trained mental health experts and open to all.

Coding and billing issues related to mental health

CMS and some insurance companies have relaxed their requirements for virtual psychiatry delivered through telehealth and videoconference.  Codes are unchanged, but place of service must be modified for affected intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), including psychiatry, family, and occupational therapy:

  • Telehealth approved for group and individual therapy (including billing codes 90853, 90832, 90834, 90837m)
  • Telehealth approved for doctors (G2012 for telephone, G2010 for a captured video or image)
  • Delivery by telephone is not allowed and PHP is actively being considered for telehealth

Free Resources

  • NAMI Helpline (National Association of Mental Health): (800) 950-6264
  • Crisis TextLine: Text “NAMI” to 741741 to chat with a crisis counselor
  • Substance abuse and mental health (SAMHSA) 24/7 Helpline: (800) 985-5990
  • National Suicide Prevention 24/7 Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
  • CDC recommends breaks in watching news, focus on connecting with others, a better diet and exercise
  • Welcoa's free webinars often focus on employee mental health:

We hope you find this helpful. Please visit for more info or click to schedule a one-on-one consultation.