Making Room for Mental Health in Your Employee Benefits Plans

Employers know that mentally healthy workforces are more productive, miss fewer days of work, and have lower medical costs. As businesses, we value the return on our investment in our workforce’s health. Yet most employers stop short of offering comprehensive benefits that adequately address mental health issues, focusing instead on physical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma that are often compounded by undiagnosed mental illnesses.

In an article published by the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, the following facts build a powerful case for including mental health benefits in your lineup:

  • Less than one-third of adults with a diagnosable mental disorder receive treatment in any given year;
  • Mental illness short-term disability claims are growing by 10% annually (accounting for 30% or more of the typical employer’s disability claims); and
  • Individuals who are depressed but not receiving care for the condition consume two to four times the healthcare resources of other enrollees.

Despite these staggering facts, many employers continue to offer mental wellness benefits as either part of a suite of optional benefits, or not at all. And few employers take the time to offer employees the education and guidance they need to take full advantage of the benefits available to them.

How Can Employers Provide Better Mental Health Services for Their Workforce?

Chances are that if you’re researching the impacts of mental health on your workforce’s productivity and engagement then your company is on the right track to making an improvement in its benefits programs. You may even already provide key services that your employees aren’t using to their full advantage.

Here are some tips and tools to help your company reduce the costly expenses associated with untreated and undiagnosed mental illnesses in your workforce:

  • Evaluate your current mental health benefits and services: assess exactly what services fall under your plans and understand how to use the health services that you currently provide.
  • Compare your current offerings to other available options in the marketplace: The National Business Coalition on Health has developed a comparison tool to help you do just that.
  • Develop strategic programs that complement your benefits plans: employers commonly offer financial incentives for participating in biometric screenings that help employees assess their physical health—but not their mental health. For tips on offering anonymous mental health screenings for employees, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org. Screening results should alway be followed up with professional on-site counseling, educational materials specific to any results received, and explanations of how the company’s benefits program can offer support services and access to care.
  • Market your benefits and support programs: This is where so many employers miss the mark. It’s not enough to offer even the best benefits in the industry if you’re not helping your employees understand how to use them. According to a study by ADP (Automatic Data Processing, Inc.), 60% of employees don’t understand the benefits programs offered by their employers.

Currently, most employers are in the throes of communicating the changes to their new benefits plans in preparation for the new year. While enrollment education is critical in helping employees to choose the benefits that will serve them and their families in the coming year, we must also help employees to understand their benefits so that they can better use them throughout the year.

Lab Monkey Design specializes in internal health and wellness communications for employees. We produce internal benefits brands, open enrollment communications, educational healthcare marketing, and a variety of customized wellness campaigns to help your employees make the most of the benefits you offer. When your employees are able understand and use the benefits you provide, your company will thrive with an engaged, productive, and loyal workforce.

If absenteeism, productivity, or high medical care costs are affecting your bottom line then you might be suffering from an unengaged or unhealthy workforce. We can help with that. Sign up for a free consultation to learn more about how Lab Monkey Design can help your company thrive by developing an engaged, productive and loyal workforce.