Review your options to decide what mental health benefits to offer

What Mental Health Benefits Should You Offer Your Employees?

Posted January 19, 2018 by Sasha Butkovich in Benefits and Perks
Advocating for better mental health at work often starts by offering the right benefits to employees. Explore some popular options.

People want to feel happy at work. This isn’t breaking news, and in fact, we’ve written about employee happiness a lot on this blog.

But as more and more workers seek out great places to work, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to appeal to people in new ways. Many millennials want a job that offers more than a paycheck, and are striving to find that coveted work/life balance.

How can small businesses deliver on this desire?

A great place to start is by revisiting the perks and benefits you offer employees. Consider the topic holistically, and try to address a wide range of issues that people face in both work and life.

Ideally, this should include mental health benefits. Employees who have the resources to manage their physical and mental health, as well as other issues outside of the workplace, are going to be greater assets to your business, and create a more positive working environment.

We’ve gathered our top resources to help you promote workplace wellness. Download our Employee Wellness Kit for the complete guide.

Mental Health at Work

Workers still face a significant stigma around mental health in our country. While nearly one in five American adults will experience mental illness in a given year, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found only 25% of people with mental health symptoms feel that others are caring or sympathetic about their illness.

As an employer, you have the ability to help ease some of the stigma around mental health in the workplace. By providing your employees access to mental health benefits, you can begin to create a culture of understanding and compassion at your company. And having employees who feel cared for and happy isn’t just good, it’s good business.

To get started with mental health benefits, it’s a good idea to double check on what you may be legally required to offer. Then, expand your list from there.

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Group Health Plan Requirements

Even if a plan doesn't provide specific mental health benefits, most group health plans are required to provide minimum mental health-related preventative services without cost sharing. Additionally, if a group health plan does provide coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services, such coverage must be in parity with medical and surgical benefits.

If you’re making mental health benefits a priority, it may be worth considering that type of coverage when selecting insurance plans to offer your employees.

However, there are plenty of ways to support mental health at work beyond the insurance plans you offer.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, is a great option for employers who want to address mental health in the workplace. EAPs generally offer a wide range of services — everything from help finding childcare to legal assistance to negotiating medical bills. In addition to these valuable services, many top EAPs offer mental health benefits as well.

For instance, Health Advocate offers a number of helpful services to members with mental health needs, including:

  • In-person, telephonic, and video counseling
  • Licensed Professional Counselors who address stress, depression, family issues, substance abuse, and more
  • Referrals for long-term counseling or specialized care

24/7 Help Line

It’s always nice to know that someone is available to talk whenever you are. Providing a help line or a counseling number, particularly if it’s available 24/7, can be a huge mental health benefit to your employees.

Confidentiality offers extra peace of mind to employees. Since privacy is a key component of these services, employees don’t need to worry that their personal information is being shared with their employer.

One example of this type of service is Talkspace. Justworks offers access to Talkspace to our employees. This platform provides secure and anonymous online therapy, where users can access confidential help from professionals, any time of day.

Culture of Positivity

Aside from these more formalized benefits and perks related to mental health, there are other ways you can support employees in this area. These ideas can help to create a culture of positivity around mental health in the workplace, reducing the stigma and instilling a compassionate environment.

One way is to simply encourage employees to develop healthy strategies for coping with work stresses. This can start right in the office. Maybe you can build a zen room — a quiet space in the office that is off-limits for phone calls and chit chat. Outfit it with comfy furniture, plants, and soft lighting, and offer it as a space where workers can come to relax in relative peace and calm.

Related Article: Office Feng Shui: 7 Ways to Create a Happy Working Space [Infographic]

Meditation is also a great tool for coping with stress. Try reserving a conference room once a week for a recurring meditation hour. People can attend as often as they’re able. If your budget allows, you could also consider offering employees discounts on meditation apps, like Headspace, which provides hundreds of themed guided meditation sessions.

Getting away from their desk to do another activity can be a great way for many people to de-stress. Encourage midday breaks that help people reset, whether that means taking a walk in the park, visiting an art gallery, or attending an exercise class.

How Justworks Can Help

Justworks has teamed up with Health Advocate, a leading clinical health advocacy company, to better help our customers with a variety of issues in and out of the workplace. Justworks customers have access to Health Advocate’s full suite of EAP services, including mental health benefits.

Become a great place to work by supporting your employees in both their work and their lives. Offering access to a variety of mental health benefits and perks can have a big impact on your people and your business.