Since March, employers have been grappling with the impacts of COVID-19 on workforce health. While the physical effects of the virus are well known, it’s also been a strain on the mental health of America’s workers.
But even before COVID-19, managing mental health was a challenge for more than half of Americans. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:
- 18 percent of Americans struggle with mental illness1
- 61 percent of employees say it negatively affects their work1
More employees are also experiencing various degrees of burnout as remote work blurs the lines between office and home. Employers see the signs of burnout in missed deadlines, increased absenteeism and lower productivity. According to a 2019 Deloitte survey, 77 percent of employees have experienced burnout at their current job — and 91 percent said feelings of stress and frustration impact their work and personal relationships.2
Rise of employer mental health benefits
With the increasing need for employee mental health care, more companies are fortifying benefit packages to include broader mental health coverage. Over 75 percent of companies offer an EAP (employee assistance program) with mental health resources.3
Good mental health coverage can help struggling employees work through their problems, which can improve productivity. The National Alliance on Mental Health estimates that untreated mental illness costs the United States up to $193 billion annually in lost productivity.4
With the broader acceptance of mental health needs, companies have the opportunity to impact employee mental health through various benefits. Beyond EAP support, here are a few examples of benefits that address this need:4
- Hospital indemnity insurance: While rare, some hospital indemnity plans can include mental wellness and addiction recovery support. Securian Financial, for instance, offers mental health coverage through its hospital indemnity product.5 We also offer a comprehensive EAP through our unique Lifestyle Benefits program.
- Disability insurance: Many providers are broadening disability insurance coverage to include mental illnesses and substance abuse.
- Wellness programs: When employees improve their physical health and fitness, it immediately impacts their mental health. Wellness programs that promote exercise and good nutrition also help improve mental health.
How companies can address employee mental health challenges
Mental health benefits do address an increasing need, yet companies can still do a better job of recognizing employees who are struggling. Companies, large and small, can offer support through programs such as remote lunches or video one-on-ones with managers, which help build understanding and compassion.2 If managers can identify which of their workers need support sooner, it’s a win-win for both the employee and company. More still, companies can improve the morale of their workforce by beefing up their benefit suite to address mental health. And they can see a return on this investment with improved productivity, that in turn can positively impact the bottom line.
Please contact us for more information.