Mental Health in Benefits: Not Just Lip Service

COVID brought a lot of changes to the workforce during its lengthy stay, from remote working to E-learning and even casual attire. But perhaps the most significant change is the sudden emphasis on the importance of mental health in employee benefits.

Since the pandemic, we have had many clients come to us requesting that mental health become a larger part of their plans or to help employees navigate current plans to access those resources. As an issue that is close to home, we know the importance of not only getting good quality care but getting that care promptly.

Some employees are having to wait six months for a first visit while experiencing a crisis. This is unacceptable.

And while the stigma for seeking mental health support is finally declining in the workplace, some employees are still hesitant to further request that help comes promptly. Asking for help is just the first step, finding help after can be challenging, especially when the need for help is urgent.

Many employees have access to Employee Assistance Programs that offer free mental health counseling sessions for six to twelve visits along with the coverage through their medical. These are great benefits, but they are often underutilized due to a lack of awareness about them and if they are used, reaching a provider can take too long.

There are alternatives to waiting.

Virtual care mental health options are timely care options that can get your people the care they need, quickly. Virtual care options have been around for a long time, however they have recently become a more popular and versatile option since COVID began.

This care option can give your people access to more providers, with national potential. Employees can get an appointment within a few days, rather than a few months, allowing them to get the care they need when they need it most. Not only are virtual care mental health options quicker, but they can also be more convenient, less intimidating, and undoubtedly more private, with no physical waiting room.

Reaching a provider faster and avoiding long waitlists is pivotal to recovery and can help your people get back to feeling like themselves sooner. Mental health support can be an important element in an employee's consideration for retention or when looking for a new job.

There are actionable steps that you can take as an employer to help protect and promote the mental health of your people:

  • Pick the right mental health benefits for your population. These plans are relatively easy to implement and can provide significant returns for the business.
  • Make mental health an important part of your benefits package by educating employees and bringing awareness to the options available. The more employees utilize these options, the happier and healthier your workforce can be. Personally and professionally.
  • Work with a benefits advisor who sees the value of these plans and can help you decide which plans are affordable and beneficial for your unique workforce. A strategic plan should be formulated to achieve positive results, with a focus on how the business cares for its people.
  • Benefits advisors should also have education and training options available during the rollout of the benefits plan, ensuring employees not only know about mental health benefit options available but also how to use them.

Mental health is a significant issue that shouldn’t be overlooked or postponed. Securing care in a timely fashion is not only important for your employees, but also for your business.

The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, one that may take years to recover from. By implementing a benefits plan that includes mental health options, and education about those options, you can give your people the ability to take care of themselves, and others, easier.

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