Organizations Report Mental Health Offerings on the Rise

Mental health benefit offerings are on the rise, according to Workplace Wellness Trends, a new report released today from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Over the past several years, there has been a noticeable increase in the share of organizations offering mental health coverage in both the United States and Canada. According to the survey results, 87% of U.S. organizations offer mental health coverage, up from 2014 rates of 69%. In Canada, 79% of organizations provide mental health coverage, which is nearly double the rate it was in 2014.

Organizations Report Mental Health Offerings on the Rise

In addition to the number of mental health initiatives, the cost to cover mental health conditions has increased for employers. In 2012, mental health was reported as one of the top three health care costs by 15% of organizations. This year, 28% of organizations included it as one of their top three conditions, surpassing hypertension/high blood pressure.

I spoke with Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation, and she offered some insight. She said our society as a whole is increasingly more aware of mental health issues, and that way of thinking is trickling into the workplace. Now more organizations are making strides to provide better support systems for employees facing mental health challenges and are including mental health as part of their overall workplace wellness plan.

[Upcoming Webcast: Suicide Prevention: What About the Workplace | October 10, 2019]

 The top offerings for mental health in the U.S. and Canada include:

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs): 90%
  • Mental health coverage: 86%
  • Substance abuse treatment coverage/benefits: 67%
  • Mental health educational/informational sessions at the workplace: 35%
  • Mental health assessment included in health risk assessment: 33%
  • Stress management program: 21%
  • On-site mindfulness/meditation classes: 23%

Also notable is that workplaces are continuing to offer mental health first aid/crisis training, which equips employees with the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse. This training is made available by 17% of U.S. and Canadian organizations.

The growing emphasis on mental health coverage could be attributed to heightened levels of worker stress. The majority of employers (72%) listed stress as the top issue negatively impacting workplace productivity.

Success in reducing employee stress is a work in progress for many organizations.

At this point, it seems as though organizations have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels, Julie added. Almost 68% of U.S. and Canadian organizations report that their efforts have been somewhat effective in reducing work-related stress, but only 4% reported “very effective” results.

[On-Demand Webcast: Wellness Benefits: Trends and Best Practices]

Despite this, most organizations plan to either increase (68%) or maintain (32%) their emphasis on mental health offerings over the next two years.

For more information and to download the Workplace Wellness Trends survey report, visit

Anne Patterson
Social Marketing and Communications Strategist at the International Foundation

Related Education for U.S. Plan Sponsors:
Health Benefits Conference & Expo | January 20-22, 2020 | Clearwater Beach, Florida

Related Education for Canadian Plan Sponsors:
Canadian Health and Wellness Innovations Conference | February 23-26, 2020 | Savannah, Georgia]

More from Word on Benefits:

Anne Patterson

Social Marketing and Communications Strategist at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation Product: The innovative member survey efforts and results from the research team.

Benefits-Telated Topics That Interest Her Most: Health care, nontraditional wellness initiatives, employee benefit communication.

Personal Insight: It’s all about balance with Anne. She loves to run and enjoys a good culinary adventure. She’ll jump at the chance to travel or to spend fun times with family and friends, but she’ll also take time to catch her breath with an occasional Netflix binge or diving into a classic novel.

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