4 Tips to Improve Your Workplace Mental Health Program
By: Benefits by Design | Wednesday January 25, 2017Updated : Wednesday June 22, 2022
In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from a mental health problem. Most will suffer in silence.
It’s in an employer’s best interests to look after their employees’ mental health for a few major reasons:
- It’s the right thing to do
- A majority of employees say they expect their employer to do it
- Poor mental health has a significant cost to your business
- Healthier, happier employees are more productive, engaged, and satisfied in their positions
If you have an existing group benefits plan, chances are that there are already some incredible mental health resources available at your fingertips. You just need to share them and build them into your workplace mental health program!
#1. Confirm What’s Already There
With a group benefits plan in place, it’s likely that you already have some measure of mental health support embedded in your coverage. Our first tip is to confirm your coverage and look for any mention of mental health support.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
One benefit to look out for in particular is called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP provides employees and their families with access to accredited professionals to deal with life’s challenges. For example, this service offers support for financial issues, stress related to family, marital, or eldercare issues, and more!
Extended Health Care (EHC)
Secondly, you’ll want to look for any Extended Health Care (EHC) benefits. EHC benefits often include some measure of counselling and psychiatry services or access to secondary mental health resources.
As an example, plan members with Green Shield Canada (GSC) EHC coverage have access to preferred pricing to BEACON, a digital therapy solution based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
#2. Promote What You Have
Once you’ve confirmed what you have access to, it’s time to tell your employees. But when it comes to employee benefits communication, it’s important to do it the right way.
Consistency is key to proper benefits communication and utilization. It’s easy for employees to forget about their coverage until they need it, particularly if employers are silent about the aspects of the plan.
Employers should aim to make their benefits plan and mental health support part of their culture. Additionally, you’ll want to take every opportunity to remind employees about their coverage (without overdoing it).
Free Download: The Employee Benefits Communication Package (PDF 3.37 MB)
Focus on the “Why”
When communicating about your benefits plan, it’s important to remind employees why it’s being offered — and the reasoning should be more than just “because everyone else does.” Focus on your benefits philosophy and stick to it.
In the case of mental health support, that reasoning might be to ensure they have the help and support they need, to show employees they’re valued, to improve productivity and engagement, to cut costs to your business, or more than likely, all of the above. Whatever your why is — be open and honest, and above all, consistent.
Ensure Resources are Accessible
Lastly, one of the biggest barriers to accessing benefits is employees often just don’t know where to find the resources they need. Whenever you’re talking about your benefits, make sure you remind employees where to go or who to speak to in order to access the coverage.
Employees will know precisely where to go for information and resources, and, as a result, are much more likely to use their benefits.
Reimagining Health and Wellness for a Remote Workforce
Idea #3: Bring Visibility Your Workplace Mental Health Program
This will work part-in-parcel with communicating available coverage, but you might also consider heightening visibility about mental health in general.
As an example, not-for-profit Partners for Mental Health run a national program called “Not Myself Today” that provides materials (posters, buttons, supports for lunch and learns/webinars) for organizations to use all year round.
Explore Not Myself Today as an added resource to your mental health awareness program. Visit their site for ideas and inspiration – we can all do better when supporting or starting a conversation around mental health.
Idea #4: Check yourself
Finally, it’s time to check yourself.
Are you, yourself, comfortable with mental health as a topic? Can you be supportive and a resource to someone when they need help? Are you comfortable with your own mental health?
As an employer looking to improve your own workplace mental health program, continuing to educate yourself about mental health and the solutions out there will only make things better.
More Mental Health Resources to Try:
- A way to assess, then start a conversation with your doctor in a number of areas: http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/screening-self-tests‘
- Optimism quick study (raise your awareness of your personal state of optimism) https://www.howatthronline.com/quicksurveys/optimismintro.a5w
- There are local chapters of the Canadian Mental Health Association all across the country: http://www.cmha.ca/get-involved/find-your-cmha/ – lookup “Bounce Back” for your area – it’s a free self-help program offered nationally.
- Visit places dedicated to the mental health conversation and resources: http://www.ementalhealth.ca/
- Public Health Units are municipal agencies that provide programming and resources for a number of health-related areas http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/