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.
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:
- Mental Health at Work—Mental Health America (MHA)
- Mental health in the workplace information sheet—World Health Organization (WHO)
- No physical health without mental health: lessons unlearned? (pdf)—Bulletin of the World Health Organization, editorial
Lois Gleason, CEBS
E-Learning/Online Course Instructional Designer at the International Foundation