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9 Emotional and Mental Health Benefits To Offer

When creating a package of perks and benefits, mental health initiatives should be top of mind. Boosting mental health and emotional well-being in the workplace can benefit both your employees and your company. You can start by offering your team items from this list of top mental health and well-being benefits and perks.

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Why mental health and well-being benefits matter

Nearly one of out every five adults in the United States struggles with mental illness, according to the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even among people who aren’t diagnosed with a mental illness, workplace stress can have a detrimental impact on health and well-being. In fact, more than 70% of adults report experiencing at least one symptom of stress, like headaches or anxiety.

These statistics point to the fact that some of your employees likely struggle with stress and may have mental health concerns. Research performed by the CDC shows that promoting mental health in the workplace can benefit individuals dealing with these issues. Offering perks and benefits for mental health is a big step toward supporting your employees’ well-being.

Benefits of boosting mental health

Mental health benefits and perks can also benefit your company. Some key benefits of boosting your employees’ mental health include:

  • Increased productivity: High levels of stress can make it difficult for employees to maintain productivity.
  • Less lost work time: Stress and mental health issues can lead to physical health problems like headaches and digestive concerns, increasing use of sick days.
  • Improved retention: Emotional and mental health concerns may accelerate employee burnout and increase rates of turnover.
  • Reduced benefits cost: Chronic stress and mental health disorders like anxiety disorders have been linked to a greater risk of heart disease and other serious health problems. Offering mental health benefits may contribute to an overall healthier team, resulting in lower health care costs.

Top benefits for mental health

Here are some top mental health and well-being benefits and perks that your company may wish to consider offering:

1. Health insurance

Access to affordable mental health services is a major concern in the US. One study found that more than 42% of people avoid seeking treatment due to cost barriers and poor insurance coverage. To ensure that your employees can get help when they need it, carefully examine the mental health benefits of insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to provide some coverage for mental health. However, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Cost of co-pays for mental health treatment: Consider how affordable the co-pays are for mental health services compared to the median salary at your company.
  • Limits on mental health coverage: Find out if there are any caps on the number of visits or maximum coverage amount for mental health.
  • Network of mental health professionals: Ask for a list of the mental health professionals that accept the plan in your area. Because these lists may be outdated, contact the professionals listed to see if they are still practicing and accepting new patients. You may find that your employees have limited options if they wish to seek mental health treatment.

2. Employee assistance programs

EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) are third-party services that employees can contact by phone or online to get help with various issues and concerns. Many of the services provided by EAPs relate to mental health and well-being benefits. Depending on the EAP you choose, your employees may gain access to:

  • Addiction assessments and treatment referrals
  • Assistance with depression and anxiety treatment
  • Financial counseling and support
  • Health management assistance
  • Help with child care or elder care arrangements
  • Legal advice and support
  • Stress management support
  • Trauma therapy

Just having an EAP likely won’t be adequate for boosting mental health in the workplace. Your employees must know that the program exists and understand what types of assistance they can receive through it. Have supervisors and managers remind their teams about the EAP periodically and emphasize the fact that the service maintains employee confidentiality.

3. Well-being apps

Well-being apps are mobile device apps that benefit mental health or emotional well-being in some way. They can include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy apps for addressing symptoms of various mental illnesses
  • Condition-specific apps for managing ADHD, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders
  • Counseling apps that connect users to mental health professionals
  • Mindfulness apps for stress and anxiety relief
  • Relaxation apps that promote feelings of calm through meditation, music and other means
  • Tracking apps that allow users to record symptoms of stress and anxiety or monitor their moods

As an employer, you can purchase subscriptions to one or more well-being apps for all of your employees. Another option is to reimburse employees who pay for approved well-being apps out of pocket.

4. Free yoga classes

The Mayo Clinic reports that yoga may help ease symptoms of stress and anxiety and offers many potential health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing joint, muscle and bone pain. By offering free classes before, during or after work, you can make it easier for members of your team to fit yoga into their day. If you don’t want to hire an instructor to come to your location, you can also offer to pay for classes in studios or subscriptions for yoga practice streaming services.

5. Meditation space

Employees may benefit from having a quiet space they can retreat to when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. When designing a space, include soft lighting and comfortable seating options, such as plush sofas and cushions on the floor. You can play ambient sounds or soothing music, or provide your employees with noise-canceling headphones that they can pair with their mobile devices to relax to their own soundtrack.

6. Telehealth counseling

Many therapists now offer telehealth appointments, and there are networks that connect individuals with telehealth therapists who are a good fit for their specific needs. Partner with one of these services or with local therapists to provide free support for your employees. To encourage participation, allow employees to use work time for weekly sessions as needed.

7. Supportive PTO policy

In areas where mental health services are short in supply, employees may find it hard to schedule well-being appointments in the evenings or on weekends. You can help solve this problem by providing paid time off for verified mental health appointments. Also, ensure that your employees can use PTO without facing judgment or scrutiny from supervisors. Encourage the practice of using PTO for mental health days as needed and foster an environment where employees feel comfortable using all of their available vacation time rather than banking it.

8. Stress management seminars and courses

Train all supervisors and managers in managing workplace stress. An educated management team may better spot warning signs of anxiety, stress and mental health problems in the workplace. Training can also empower supervisors to speak comfortably and professionally about mental health and allow them to foster a positive, low-stress working environment. You may also wish to offer stress management seminars, courses or classes on specific topics like mindfulness or meditation to all employees.

9. Flexible working options

Providing more flexibility in the workplace can help employees better balance their family and work responsibilities to reduce overall stress. Some ways to increase flexibility include:

  • Remote work: Employees work from home full-time, part-time or as needed.
  • Flextime: Employees choose when they work.
  • Compressed weeks: Employees work four, 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour shifts.
  • Project-based: Salaried employees only need to work as much as needed to complete their assigned projects.
  • Split shifts: Employees work in the morning and evening with time off in between.

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