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Resource Center / Mental Health

What Mental Health Benefits Should You Offer Your Employees?

Advocating for better mental health at work often starts by offering the right benefits to employees. In this post, explore some popular options.

Sasha Butkovich headshot November 2017
Sasha Butkovich
May 03, 20235 minutes

How can small businesses improve their ability to attract and retain talent?

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 will create a more positive working environment.

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Mental Health at Work

Workers still face a significant stigma around mental illness in our country, despite how common these health conditions are. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime, and nearly one in five adults will experience mental illness in a given year.

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 offering mental health benefits, it’s a good idea to first check on what you may be required to offer by any laws that apply to your business. Then, expand your list from there.

Group Health Insurance Plan Requirements

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

Even if a plan does not provide specific mental health benefits, most group health plans are required to provide minimum mental health-related preventive 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.

While medical coverage plans are important and impactful, 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 — help with everything from 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 need to. Providing a helpline 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. This platform provides secure and anonymous online therapy where users can access confidential help from professionals, any time of day.

Positive Work Culture

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

One strategy is to simply encourage employees to develop healthy methods of coping with work stresses. This can start right in the office once workers have returned from working remotely. Maybe you can build a zen room — a quiet space in the office that is off-limits for phone calls and chit chat. Fill 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.

Meditation is also a great tool for coping with stress. After you’ve returned to the office, try reserving a conference room once a week for a recurring meditation hour that people can attend as often as they’re able. You could also create a meditation room that people can book to meditate in private. If your budget allows, you might also consider offering employees discounts on meditation apps like Headspace, which provides hundreds of themed guided meditation sessions.

Getting away from their desks to participate in 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, touring an art gallery online, or attending a virtual 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.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.