How Employee Health Benefits Support Mental Health
A healthy employee isn’t just physically healthy, they’re mentally healthy as well, and when mental health is neglected, physical health can suffer as well. For employers, unsupported mental health challenges can also have far-reaching effects on job performance. That’s why more employers are recognizing the importance of supporting their employees’ mental health. A good way to do this is through employee health benefits.
Mental Health’s Effects on the Workplace
As an employer, it’s important to recognize the impact that mental health challenges can have on your employees and the workplace. Your organization incurs both tangible and intangible costs when your employee’s mental health isn’t supported.
- Lower productivity – When your employees come to work while struggling with mental health challenges, they are not operating at their optimal level of performance. They are often preoccupied with their challenges and unable to contribute to their full potential. Often referred to as “presenteeism,” your employees may be on the job, but they are not there in spirit. This affects your bottom line, as you’re now paying the employee for sub-par performance.
- Absenteeism – Unaddressed mental health challenges can lead to an increase in the number of days absent. Some estimate that more than 500,000 Canadian workers are absent each week due to mental health concerns. The costs of sick pay, productivity losses or payment of replacement workers can really add up.
- Decreased employee morale – When even some of your employees are suffering from mental health challenges and are not receiving the support they need, the whole workforce suffers. Employees see that their employer is not supporting those who need it, and they begin to question whether their employer cares about them. It’s a downward spiral that can lead to retention issues.
- Increased costs for employee health benefits – When your employee health benefits do not support mental health, other elements of your plan may feel the impact. Mental health issues can cause physical afflictions which can then require prescription drugs or disability claims. Often these costs could have been minimized if the underlying mental health issue had been addressed.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on Canadians and people around the world. Employees are dealing with new ways of working or even loss of work. Their entire lives have changed and adapting to these changes can be challenging.
Many people are feeling stress right now. There’s stress about catching the virus, the economy, arranging childcare, financial pressures and more. People who are now working from home may be experiencing feelings of isolation and a detachment from the workplace. Now more than ever, it’s important to support the mental health of your employees.
Employee Health Benefits Support Mental Health
Your employee benefit plan is an ideal mechanism for supporting the mental health of your employees.
- Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP)
An employee and family assistance plan is one of the most important tools for supporting mental health. At GroupHEALTH, our employee and family assistance plans offer free short-term counselling. This removes the financial barrier to getting help and also the time and stress associated with locating and arranging counselling.
Online resources through the EFAP are also important. Articles, podcasts, and videos help employees find resources any time of the day or night. Resources related to financial planning and money are also available, which can help remove stress associated with finances.
The reason an employee and family assistance program is so important is because its very existence encourages employees to seek help in the early stages of a problem. This can prevent the issue from turning into something more serious.
Wellness benefits are another great way to support mental health. Whether through a wellness spending account, subsidized gym memberships, walking clubs, fitness challenges or other activities, wellness has important benefits. Exercise has many health benefits and taking steps to encourage employees to get active can help improve mental health.
- Extended Health and Paramedical Coverage
Extended health benefits that cover prescription drugs support employees who require medication for their mental health. This coverage removes the cost barrier to help employees get the medication they need.
Paramedical coverage for things like massage therapy and acupuncture can also help improve mental health. Whether helping relieve stress or treating physical conditions that are causing stress, paramedical coverage can be a valuable way to support mental health.
Good Advice is Key
Are you looking for ways to support mental health in your workplace? Does your current employee benefits plan offer tools for addressing mental health issues? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.