Benefits for Mental Health

Shawnee Love   •  
May 26, 2017

The title is correct. I am not talking about the benefits of mental health (although the ROI is clear), I am actually talking about what benefits in your benefit program support and contribute to positive mental health.

The very existence of a benefits program is a good start, because knowing there is a security blanket and/or financial support for illnesses and injuries will set some employees at ease.

Beyond the existence though, having extended health which offers good coverage on paramedicals correlates well with reduced stress and increased mental health.  When I say good coverage, I am using good from an employee’s perspective which often means bigger maximums and/or an aggregated maximum.

Bigger maximums mean increasing the $300 per year up to $500 or even $750. With paramedicals like physio and massage costing $100+/visit, having bigger maximums means employees can pursue treatments longer before being out of pocket.

If bigger individual paramedical maximums is a better program, the best programs for mental health will merge their maximums so that employees can use any combination of paramedicals up to the overall paramedical max.

For example, if a plan currently offers a $300 maximum on each of 8 paramedicals per year, you can turn that into an excellent paramedical plan by merging the maximums see if you can get the maximums merged such that employees will have a $2400 annual maximum for reimbursement on any paramedical. That way

Brain & heart character illustrationsomeone who uses one service a lot (e.g., massage) and not others will be able to maintain a massage program much longer throughout the year without significant financial impact.

Other benefits that can help with mental health include:

  • An employee family assistance plan: Usually offered by a benefits provider, these plans provide a wide variety of useful information, tools and resources AND typically include call  in support such that employees and their family members in distress or needing assistance with the work and life stresses thrown at them, can call and get free legal advice, concierge services for finding doctors and dentists and service providers, counselling, etc.  I remember when I had my first child, I looked on my Employee Family Assistance plan and it had advice on how to child proof my home (and even sent me some outlet protectors, and door handle covers).  The breadth and depth of these programs varies, but I encourage all employers to invest because it is a relatively inexpensive benefit to offer with extensive resources for employees in need.
  • Fitness  & Wellness program: Usually self administered but some service providers are stepping into this gap, these programs usually offer reimbursements to staff for participating in fitness or wellness programs.  They usually are set for an annual maximum and have a few rules like the reimbursement is for services, activities, and programs, not equipment or supplies but they are an excellent way to encourage employees for making healthy choices.  I have also seen these programs set up with rewards for things like weight loss, smoking cessation, activity levels, etc., and the range of what you can do if it is your own program is endless.

I’d love to know if you have any other benefits initiatives which contribute to mental health and reduced stress in the workplace.  Please comment below.