Four Employee Benefits Crucial to Maintaining Employee Mental Health

Most employers want to support the mental health of their employees. In a previous blog post, I offered suggestions for cultivating a respectful culture that destigmatizes mental illness and helps employees perform to their full potential.

In this post, I discuss four specific employee benefits that are key to maintaining the health and productivity of employees with mental health conditions.

Four Employee Benefits Crucial to Maintaining Employee Mental Health

1. Health Care Benefits for Mental Health

Perhaps the most obvious is offering healthcare benefits for mental health. Physical and mental health are deeply intertwined. Access to affordable medical care for both physical and mental ailments is crucial to overall health. Without mental health care benefits, employees could have difficulty paying for treatment on their own. Without treatment, overall health is more likely to decline than improve.

To be effective, mental health benefits must provide timely access to quality practitioners. Employers should make sure their benefit plans include a sufficient number of in-network providers currently accepting new patients. Otherwise, employees may have to wait months for their first appointment. A 2015 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) report, Out-Of-Network, Out-Of-Pocket, Out-Of-Options: The Unfulfilled Promise Of Parity, shows how difficult it can be for employees to find in-network mental health care providers. Obtaining care out-of-network is often unaffordable.

[On-Demand Webcast: Workplace 2020: Mental Health as a Strategic Asset]

2. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

High-quality EAPs do several things. They provide confidential short-term counseling. They also help employees locate and access more comprehensive help if needed. Many EAPs offer education and services to combat stress caused by financial, legal and caregiving issues.

3. Paid Sick Leave

To manage their mental health effectively, employees must spend time and money. The ability to use paid sick time to go to medical appointments is very valuable. Medical professionals may also recommend taking time away from work as needed to prevent mild symptoms from becoming worse. Offering paid sick time for every kind of illness can save employers money in the long run by decreasing the amount of productive work time lost.

[Free Member Report: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits: 2018 Survey Results]

4. Short-Term Disability Benefits

Short-term disability benefits provide a financial safety net when an employee’s medical condition becomes serious enough to be disabling. Employees who can count on a predictable income stream while undergoing treatment are more likely to seek treatment and return to productive work.


Tangible ways to support employees’ mental health include offering health care benefits for mental health treatment, EAPs, paid sick time and short-term disability benefits. It is virtually impossible for anyone to access the time and medical care necessary to manage illness without meaningful financial support. These four high-impact employee benefits can improve workforce health, productivity and satisfaction.

Additional Resources to Support Employees’ Mental Health:

Lois Gleason, CEBS
E-Learning/Online Course Instructional Designer at the International Foundation

38th Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium

Related Reading:

Lois Gleason, CEBS

Instructional Designer at the International Foundation  Favorite Foundation Product: Employee Benefits Survey (conducted every two years; it is very comprehensive). Benefits-Related Topic Top Picks: The changing landscape of America’s costly health care system, ERISA compliance, retirement decumulation strategies. Favorite Things About Working at the Foundation: My co-workers and how much they care about the quality of their work product. I also love, love, love all the windows in our office with their beautiful views of trees and sky. Personal Insight: I am constantly reading. I can relate to the flaws, strengths, and silly inconsistencies found in the characters of classic novels like Middlemarch, North and South, and A Tale of Two Cities. I also read the daily newspapers every morning at breakfast–and yes, I still get the paper versions. Because it’s no big deal if a little coffee spills on them.

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