Why it Might Make Sense to Include Mental Health Benefits in Your Plan
Now that it’s 2021, all the problems of 2020 are solved…right? We wish. The past 12 months have brought to light just how important mental health is, in addition to physical health, which is why some organizations may consider including mental health benefits in their plans.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder or illness at some point in their lifetime. There are a variety of benefits employers can implement, including Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help combat mental health issues.
- Group Health Plans: Consider selecting a plan with specific mental health benefits, or mental-health related preventive services. This can not only help current employees, but may attract future hires.
- EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs): This is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work related issues. These types of programs can be vital in helping organizations, and their employees, deal with trauma (workplace or otherwise).
- 24/7 Access to Counseling: Many plans and programs come with 24/7 hotlines, but it may be pertinent to seek these out and ensure they are included. These helplines are often confidential, and can be a huge mental health benefit to employees.
- Develop a Wellness Program: These can include on-site fitness classes (where appropriate, and in accordance with CDC and local/state guidelines), reimbursement for gym memberships, relaxation spaces and lifestyle counseling. Providing these resources can make a huge different in both the personal and professional lives of employees. It can often be difficult for workers to access or afford these services on their own, but providing them in the workplace (virtual or otherwise) makes it convenient for them to make healthier lifestyle choices.
- Foster Connection (Especially in a remote world): Many organizations have moved to fully-remote or partially-remote work models. And, many of these models are here to stay. While there are many benefits to working remotely, this model can lead to loneliness or a lack of connectivity. Have monthly Zoom sessions, develop Slack channels meant for sharing positivity, or send some pick-me-ups to employees.
Also, look to other organizations and see how they’ve launched innovative mental health benefits and incorporated them into their workplace. As more and more employers navigate the sensitive topic of mental health in the workplace, it’s important for employers to meet the needs of their employees, while also being conversant with employee rights and employer obligations under the law. This has proven even more relevant today as employees and employers alike address the daily stresses associate with the ongoing pandemic. Make sure to be mindful of the mental health benefits you could incorporate into your plan.