The past few years have underscored the vital need for comprehensive mental health support in the workplace. Many companies now offer baseline mental health benefits, but there is a growing recognition that these bare minimum offerings are insufficient. These benefits will not deliver any real value to the employer or employee if they are not used, do not meet their needs, and fail to reduce barriers to care like stigma, access, and cost.
Employers today need to move beyond just checking the box and provide meaningful, easily accessible resources that actively support the mental health and well-being of their workforce. This priority is important for both retaining talent and boosting productivity, and for attracting new employees. The expectations of younger generations entering the workforce are clear – employers must demonstrate a true commitment to mental health, which necessitates going above and beyond the standard table stakes. Companies must also acknowledge that poor mental health affects a significant portion of employees, and their efforts to build a thriving culture should demonstrate that mental health is just as critical as physical health.
In short, the days of treating mental health benefits as an afterthought are over.
The Problems with Checking the Box
Checking the box for mental health care without addressing the underlying issues can be problematic for several reasons:
- Superficial approach: Simply checking the box without genuinely addressing mental health concerns reflects a superficial approach to employee well-being. The benefit offering may appear to be a resource for mental health, but it may not really provide adequate support or resources.
- Stigmatization: Offering behavioral health benefits without actively promoting a culture that supports mental health can contribute to the stigmatization of mental health issues. Employees may feel reluctant to seek help or disclose their struggles due to fear of judgment or potential negative consequences.
- Inadequate support: Providing bare minimum benefits without implementing proper resources and support systems can leave employees without the necessary tools to cope with mental health challenges.
- Impact on productivity and well-being: Unaddressed mental health issues can significantly impact employee productivity, engagement, and overall well-being. Ignoring or neglecting mental health concerns can lead to increased stress levels, decreased job satisfaction, higher absenteeism rates, and reduced overall performance.
- Missed opportunity for a supportive workplace: By genuinely prioritizing mental health care, employers can create a supportive and inclusive work environment. Actively addressing mental health concerns can foster employee morale, loyalty, and productivity, while also reducing turnover rates and associated costs.
It is crucial for employers to move beyond symbolic gestures and adopt comprehensive strategies that promote mental health awareness, provide accessible resources, cultivate a supportive culture, and prioritize the well-being of their employees.
The Benefits of Best-in-Class Mental Health Benefits
Providing comprehensive mental health care resources to employees can have numerous benefits, both for the employees and the employers including:
- Improved employee well-being: Access to mental health care resources can help employees manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, leading to improved overall well-being and a better work-life balance.
- Increased productivity: When employees’ mental health needs are addressed, they are better equipped to focus on their work and perform at their best, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
- Reduced absenteeism: Mental health issues can often lead to absenteeism. By providing mental health care resources, employers can help employees manage their mental health proactively, reducing the number of sick days taken due to mental health challenges.
- Enhanced employee engagement and morale: A supportive work environment that prioritizes mental health fosters a positive company culture. Employees are more likely to feel engaged, valued, and appreciated, leading to higher morale and job satisfaction.
- Attracting and retaining talent: In today’s competitive job market, mental health benefits can be a significant factor in attracting top talent and retaining skilled employees. Job seekers are more likely to choose employers who demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being.
- Lower healthcare costs: Addressing mental health issues early on can prevent more serious health problems and reduce healthcare costs overall. Employees with access to mental health care resources may experience fewer physical health complications related to unmanaged mental health conditions.
- Decreased workplace conflicts: Addressing mental health concerns can lead to improved communication, empathy, and understanding among employees, reducing workplace conflicts and improving teamwork.
- Reduction in presenteeism: Presenteeism occurs when employees come to work but are not fully productive due to mental health issues. Comprehensive mental health care can help reduce presenteeism and ensure employees are working at their full potential.
Offering comprehensive mental health care resources demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of employees, which can lead to a more positive and productive work environment while also contributing to the overall success and reputation of the organization.
Are your employees actually using their mental health benefits? If not, connect with Learn to Live today to find how we can help.