How company benefits can improve employees’ mental health

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Kara Robinson
November 16, 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic still being present, it’s important for employers and employees alike to be prepared for the possibility of continued work from home. This means taking into account data that emerged during the previous lockdown. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in July 2020 that 53% of American adults had experienced negative mental health effects during the prior months of the pandemic.

Mental illness is costly

Regardless of the pandemic, mental health stigma often permeates the workplace, which ends up costing both employers and employees. The World Health Organization estimates that untreated depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion every year. However, for every dollar invested in treating a person’s mental health, the economy gets the equivalent of $4 in both health and productivity returned. Considering that 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their adult lives, it is in employers' best interests to provide mental health benefits.

Some companies have already taken the first steps

You’ve likely heard about Starbucks’ addition of mental health benefits for employees and their families. At no cost to them, employees and eligible family members are entitled to 20 sessions a year with a psychologist, provided by Lyra Health. Other companies offer a variety of similar benefits. Bank of America, Citigroup, and other banks implemented meditation and yoga courses and supported their employees in pursuing telehealth options. The employees at Lyra Health, where Starbucks partners are receiving care, are also receiving support through free access to the Calm app. Target offers a year of access to stress-management and sleep-promoting apps. More companies are providing a combination of similar strategies to support their employees in the best way for them.

Providing the best resources

But what to offer? It seems the most effective strategy is to offer a mix of options for employees to use as best benefits them. 53% of employers are now providing special emotional and mental health programs including 

  • Discounts on mental health apps
  • Virtual service options (like remote yoga classes)
  • Changes in employee assistance programs 
  • Virtual or in-person therapy sessions, including substance abuse programs
  • Referrals for long-term counseling or specialized care 

A popular option with good breadth is a robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs offer a range of services, including but not limited to finding childcare, legal assistance, and negotiating medical bills. Additionally, many top EAPs offer mental health benefits. Augmenting your already-existing EAP may be the key to providing your employees with just the support they need.

Protecting employees’ mental health protects your company, too.

Research shows that nearly 86 percent of employees treated for depression report improved work performance. And in some studies, treatment of depression has been shown to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism by 40 to 60 percent. And, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, rates of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are twice as high in adults with serious mental illness. This means lower healthcare costs, less stress, and happier, healthier employees. When your employees are healthy, they are better able to perform.

Financial wellness leads to better mental health

In 2020, 41% of Americans cited concerns over emergency savings as their top worry. Stress can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical health; chronic stress can lead to headaches, a weakened immune system, and even a lower score on an IQ test. Especially during a pandemic, managing personal finances is a crucial part of maintaining mental health. Having a plan for emergencies - or, even better, an emergency savings account - is a great way for individuals to feel more in control and less stressed.

Secure offers an easy-to-use, out-of-plan emergency savings account, called SecureSave, that can help your employees save automatically. Employees want this benefit – 70% say they would save with an employer-sponsored savings plan and 90% say they would save with employer matches. Secure can purpose build out-of-plan ESA solutions and technology to automate the capability. Learn more by contacting us at Secure or sign up to help your employees start saving today.

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Kara Robinson

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