Mental Health Challenges
In recent years there has been a lot of talk about mental health; COVID-19 has been responsible for a lot of this, but the conversation started before the pandemic. The numbers are staggering. A Canadian Living article (citing statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association) says that every week more than half a million Canadians aren’t able to work due to mental illness. One in five Canadians are affected by mental illness each year. It’s clear that mental health is a very real issue. As an employer, there are concrete ways you can support the mental health of your employees, and there are many reasons why you should do it.
Going it Alone
Struggling with mental health is isolating. There’s a stigma around mental health and too many people try to ‘go it alone.’ Stress and anxiety are often downplayed as ‘normal’ and people don’t feel these are issues that require help. For those that do want help, the cost of seeing a mental health professional can be prohibitive.
Without help, someone struggling with their mental health may see it deteriorate further. They may also experience physical symptoms as their mental health declines. It’s a no-win situation.
Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
The best way you can step in to offer support to employees is by providing access to an Employee and Family Assistance program (EFAP). At GroupHEALTH, we believe in the value of these programs so much that every employee benefits plan we build includes access to an EFAP. Here are some of the most important elements of an EFAP:
- Live support personnel
When an employee reaches out for help, there will always be an answer. A real person, trained in providing support will answer the phone and they’ll get started immediately on arranging counselling or services for the employee. This happens 24/7, 365 days a year. This human connection during a very challenging time can make all the difference.
- Online resources
Not everyone is ready to talk to someone else about their challenges, or to arrange for counselling. This is where online resources become so important. Articles on a diverse range of topics can provide tips or advice for someone struggling. Podcasts, quizzes or infographics can help support your employees, while allowing them to feel insulated from judgement.
These confidential resources can also be a way for employees to be proactive about their mental health. Reading articles, tips and suggestions can help employees find ways to manage stress, anxiety and other issues before they deteriorate.
- Free counselling and Support
One of the most important elements of an Employee and Family Assistance Program is access to counselling and support. This access removes the monetary barrier that a person may face, as well as the logistical barrier of locating and arranging support. It’s completely confidential for your employees and it can make a huge difference. An EFAP provides short-term counselling to deal with immediate needs.
Counselling is not the only support available. Recognizing that treating the underlying cause of mental health issues is also important, a good EFAP also provides access to legal or financial professionals that can provide advice.
The most obvious reason to support the mental health of your employees is because it’s the right thing to do. We’re all in this together and helping out a fellow human is what we’re supposed to do.
There are also other positives to supporting the mental health of your employees. Creating a positive, supportive workplace will improve company culture. This will mean happier, healthier employees. These employees will have the tools to deal with their mental health issues, so when they are working, they can concentrate on work. This will increase productivity and also reduce absenteeism.
Employee retention can also benefit. If employees are happy with their employer, they’re less likely to look for a new job. High employee turnover is expensive, so creating a positive company culture can really pay off.
Supporting the mental health of employees can also help when you’re recruiting new employees. It’s a competitive world out there and prospective employees want to know they will have support if they need it. They also want to know that the company has a positive company culture.
Good Advice is Key
Does your employee benefit plan include proactive tools and support for mental health? Does your company culture need a boost? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.