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Employers taking a bigger look at mental health

EAPs are among the programs on the rise as stress takes its toll in the workplace.
By: | October 29, 2019 • 2 min read

With mental health becoming such a big part of the national healthcare conversation, it’s no surprise employers are taking to the challenge.

In fact, there’s been a 26% increase in the number of organizations offering mental-health coverage, with nearly 90% of companies now offering this benefit in 2019, according to a recent report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

“Our society as a whole is increasingly more aware of the prevalence of mental-health issues, and that way of thinking is making its way into the workplace,” said Julie Stich, CEBS, vice president of content at IFEBP. “Now, more organizations are making strides to provide better support systems for employees facing mental-health challenges and including mental health as part of their overall workplace wellness plan.”

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

For employees, financial stress is taking its toll. Not only does financial stress impact employees’ health—it can result in everything from depression and anxiety to migraines, ulcers and heart issues.

To help employees address mental health, these are some of the top offerings employers have put in place:

  • EAPs: 90%
  • Mental-health coverage: 87%
  • Substance abuse treatment coverage/benefits: 73%
  • Mental-health assessment included in health-risk assessment (HRA): 35%
  • Mental-health educational/informational sessions at the workplace: 34%
  • Stress-management programs: 23%

“Increased programs and options equate to higher costs but, for most organizations, it’s worth the trade-off for a healthier, safer and more productive workforce,” added Stich.

One notable takeaway from the repot is that employers are continuing to offer mental health first aid/crisis training to help equip employees with the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse. This training is made available by 15% of organizations.

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Also see: 7 ways to (effectively) address mental health in the workplace

“At this point, it seems as though workplaces have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels,” Stich noted. “Almost 70% of organizations report that their efforts have been somewhat effective in reducing work-related stress, but only 4% reported ‘very effective’ results.”

Despite this, most organizations plan to either increase or maintain their emphasis on mental-health offerings over the next two years, Stich added.

Nick Otto is HRE’s senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @Ottografs.

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