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3 Ways to Promote Employee Mental Health

Mental health struggles like depression, stress and anxiety can take a heavy toll on employees. When they lack support or resources to prioritize mental well-being, employees are left to deal with these struggles alone. In the U.S., mental health issues affect one in five adults each year.1

The effect also hits employers. The World Health Organization estimates that 12 billion working days are lost every year globally due to depression and anxiety at a cost of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.2

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The best way to help someone who is struggling with mental health issues is to let them know that they have support. An effective way for employers to do this is to build a foundation of resources to help employees feel supported and valued.

Many conditions can be classified as mental health disorders. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lays out several common diagnoses by category (this list is not all-inclusive).3

Disorder Type Examples
Anxiety Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias
Behavioral Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorders
Eating Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating
Mood Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Self-Harm
Personality Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder
Psychotic Schizophrenia
Trauma Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Here are just a few ways that employers can show support for their employees coping with mental health challenges.

Paid time off for mental health

There are few better ways to show employees that their mental health is a priority than by granting them paid time off. A recent study found that 65% of workers say they would benefit from paid self-care days.4 Other approaches like flexible working hours or remote working options can help employees who might need support.

Taking a company-wide "recharge" day or synchronous break is another way to provide employees with sanctioned self-care time—and without any guilt they may feel for taking personal days. This method encourages the entire company to take a break and come back refreshed. Some companies use the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to shut down and recharge.

Work-life balance practices

Actively encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance—or shall we say life-work balance—accomplishes two things. First, it helps them to understand that your company does not hold them to impossibly high expectations for productivity. Additionally, it demonstrates your company's dedication to keeping employees healthy and well-rounded.

There is one important caveat: Work-life balance must be a lead-by-example endeavor. If a company's CEO is sending emails at 9 p.m. on Saturdays, employees may feel pressure to follow suit.

Ideas to help implement a work-life balance

  • Establish working hours and ensure leaders stick to those times—employees are watching!
  • Offer occasional or regular remote working days.
  • Choose a typical slow day of the week to schedule an occasional company-wide half-day off.
  • Send vacation time reminders to ensure employees use their paid time off.
  • Institute an open-door policy for employees who need to request time away for self-care.

Voluntary wellness benefits

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, average annual spending on mental health care services increased by 20% between 2013 and 2020 (for enrollees with a mental health diagnosis).1 By providing ways to help employees pay for mental health services, employers can help break down barriers to treatment.

Some voluntary insurance products include optional benefits to help pay for those treatment costs.

Critical Illness Insurance from Allstate Benefits can help close the gaps in major medical coverage while paying employees cash to use however they choose if they are diagnosed with a covered illness. Plus, optional riders are available to help employees seek help if needed, including inpatient treatment for mental or nervous disorders or substance abuse. Optional rider coverage is also available to help pay for participation in lifestyle enhancement programs such as stress management or online health assessments.

All new! Allstate Benefits just introduced an easy and secure way to receive online counseling with a licensed therapist through Walmart Health Virtual Care. Participants can schedule visits in as few as 72 hours to address common emotional and mental health concerns. The service, which is confidential and HIPAA-compliant, is available to a growing number of employers. Click here to learn more about Walmart Health Virtual Care.

Contact an agent today to learn more about these employee benefits package options for Critical Illness Insurance or click here for a quote.

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