2022 will be the Year of Spiritual Care
This prediction is based on two numbers. The first is 95—the percentage of large US employers who offer mental health care benefits through an Employee Assistance Program. The other is One—as in less than 1% of employees have access to spiritual care through their employer.
That might make sense in a world where few people are spiritual or religious, but actually 77% of Americans say that religion is very or somewhat important in their lives.
It might make sense that less than 1% of US employees have access to spiritual care if none of them had any spiritual suffering but about 12.5 million are bereaved and grieving in a typical year.
1.8 Million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. They fear for their lives and are worried sick about their families. That is spiritual suffering. Think also about those who are going through the most stressful life events, such as a divorce, (more than 1,600,000 per year) or moving house (more than 30 million people). Worry, uncertainty, loss of relationships are all forms of spiritual suffering.
Some people going through difficult life events will develop mental illness, and they deserve the best mental health care possible. But most people will cope without developing a diagnosable condition. How will the majority cope? Here’s what the data show:
- The majority of patients with chronic pain use prayer and spiritual support for coping with their pain. Prayer is the second most commonly used coping mechanism for pain after medication.
- Religion is central for many people’s coping with illness and adversity. For example, 85% of women with breast cancer turned to religion to cope.
The attributes of spirituality are peace, joy, equanimity in the face of adversity, respect for others, so it’s not surprising that there’s a big overlap between quality of life and spirituality.
The Mayo Clinic comments, “Staying connected to your inner spirit and the lives of those around you can enhance your quality of life, both mentally and physically. Your personal concept of spirituality may change with your age and life experiences, but it always forms the basis of your well-being, helps you cope with stressors large and small, and affirms your purpose in life.”
Adding spiritual care benefits will increase the number of highly qualified providers available to employees in total, helping to increase the notoriously low rate of utilization for EAP. Chaplains are trusted providers, and we offer a degree of confidentiality that appeals to those who are fearful of the harmful impact in the future of a mental health diagnosis.
When spiritual care is an option, it expands the continuum of care and gives employees additional options.
We do not provide mental health care, we simply add a layer of spiritual care to the existing services available through your EAP, to help employees cope with the challenges that life presents. Much published research supports the efficacy of this approach. Board certified chaplains work in interdisciplinary teams in clinical settings, so we are used to working harmoniously with other disciplines.
The Company Chaplain can also be offered independently of an EAP, as a wellness benefit in its own right.
HR professionals, benefits managers and employers can make spiritual care available to employees in 2022, through The Company Chaplain. It’s affordable, with plans starting under $100 / month. All services are conveniently booked and provided online.
When you put the evidence-based data and the business case together with the huge numbers of employees with spiritual care needs, it’s easy to see why spiritual care will be a key innovation in EAP in 2022.