How Employee Benefits Can Improve Mental Health in the Workplace
Most employers strive to create an inclusive, safe work environment where employees feel supported. One way that many employers support their employees is by providing employee group benefits. Health and dental benefits help support the physical health of employees, but what about their mental health?
Why Support Mental Health in the Workplace?
It’s become increasingly clear that mental health is an important component of a person’s overall health. In 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that 1 in 4 people will have a mental disorder sometime in their life. It went on to say that mental disorders are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.
Those are some powerful facts that highlight how common mental illness is. As an employer, you’ve chosen to support the physical wellbeing of your employees, so it just makes sense to support the mental health of your employees, too.
Not only is it the right thing to do, supporting the mental health of your workers has other benefits:
- Improved employee engagement
- Reduced absenteeism
- Reduced “presenteeism”
- Increased productivity
All of this will benefit your bottom line and help your company remain competitive.
Improving Mental Health in the Workplace
Promoting an inclusive, non-judgemental environment starts at the top. Senior management should be vocal in their support for improved mental health. Mental health issues often have a stigma attached to them, and management’s goal should be to break that stigma so those who need help are able to get it. Policies and procedures should reflect the company’s commitment to supporting mental health.
One approach could be to train supervisors or managers to help them recognize when someone is struggling and know how best to support them.
The other part to improving mental health in the workplace is to recognize that mental health doesn’t have to refer only to those who have been diagnosed with a “disorder.” Improving mental health can mean help to reduce stress or provide support during a particularly challenging time.
A great way to improve mental health in the workplace is to include an employee and family assistance plan (EFAP) as part of your employee benefits plan. GroupHEALTH strongly believes in the importance of supporting and improving the mental health of employees, so it includes access to an EFAP in every group benefits plan.
A good EFAP provides support for life, work and everything in between. At its core is short term counselling that is available 24/7, 365 days a year. In addition to counselling, there are many other resources that employees can access to help improve their mental health. Accessing an EFAP is voluntary, and it is completely confidential.
GroupHEALTH’s EFAP is available as a resource for many works and personal issues, including:
- mental health concerns
- managing finances
- improving fitness
- general legal advice
- smoking cessation
Employees can reach help any time of the day or night, and can request telephone, video or in-person counselling to help them get through a difficult time. The counselling is primarily short-term, but counsellors will help the employee find long term counselling when appropriate.
In addition to counselling, employees will have online access to articles, videos and podcasts on a wide range of topics. Online resources include “toolkits” which are action-oriented for those who don’t know where to start when tackling a challenge or making a change.
GroupHEALTH’s EFAP also regularly addresses current events through resources and articles. For example, they may post articles or resources pertaining to health threats or natural disasters that are in the media.
Barriers to Getting Help
For many employees, without an EFAP, they simply wouldn’t get help. The first hurdle is finding a qualified counsellor. If an employee has not had counselling previously, many don’t know where to start looking for one. Maybe they start off by googling “counsellors” and then receive a long list of search results. Next, they have to try to select one that would be a good fit, then call around to find availability. If the decision to reach out happens in the late evening, they’re likely not going to get an answer when they start calling around. The cost of counselling can be unpredictable, and daunting. For someone hesitant to reach out, this chain of events can make them reconsider looking for help at all.
This is where you as an employer can make all the difference in helping that employee get the help they need. With programs like GroupHEALTH’s EFAP, the employee just has to make a single phone call. They don’t have to worry about the time of day or night. They don’t have to second guess who they should be calling or how much it’s going to cost them. Once that employee reaches out, the EFAP will put them in touch with a counsellor. They’ll follow up and help arrange the appointment. With 24/7, 365-day service, the employee will always receive an answer when they call.
Even if they don’t call, and instead log on to the EFAP website, they’ll still find a lot of resources. It may be a stepping stone to getting further help, or it may be just what the employee needs. It’s easy to access, credible information.
For many, the financial aspect of counselling is yet another barrier that prevents people from getting help. By including counselling through a GroupHEALTH EFAP, you’re removing the financial barrier that may otherwise prevent someone from seeking help.
Employee Benefits CAN Improve Mental Health in the Workplace
As an employer, you can help contribute to better health in the workplace. When you create a safe environment where employees feel supported and then give them access to an EFAP, you can make a difference.
Supporting mental health in the workplace is the right thing to do, but it will also benefit your company. Providing your employees resources to improve their mental health will allow them to focus on their work and increase their productivity. This makes good business sense.
Good Advice is Key
Interested in improving mental health in your workplace? Want more information about including an EFAP with your employee benefit plan? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.