If you’re offering a traditional group health insurance plan, employee mental health services may not be covered, especially if they’re looking for in-network services.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that people have a greater difficulty finding in-network providers for mental healthcare compared to general medical care. Behavioral health office visits are over five times more likely to be out-of-network—and in turn, more expensive—than primary care appointments.
So how can employers support stronger workplace mental health when these important services aren’t covered?
In this article, we’ll go over five ways you can prioritize your employees’ mental health, including:
- Supplement your group health plan with a GCHRA or stipend
- Talk frequently and openly about employee mental health
- Make time for fun at work
- Ensure your employees have adequate vacation time
- Offer mental health trainings
1. Supplement your group health plan with a GCHRA or stipend
If your group policy doesn’t cover mental health services, you don’t necessarily need to go looking for a new plan. With a group coverage HRA (GCHRA), sometimes called an integrated HRA, you can supplement your current plan with a monthly health allowance to cover the costs that aren’t included or fully paid for by the group plan.
Unlike a health savings account (HSA), a GCHRA allows employers to only pay employees for the expenses they incur, rather than pre-funding an account. Any unused funds an employee has left when they leave the organization, or reach the end of the plan year, stays with the employer.
Another option is to add a health or wellness stipend to your employee benefits package. With a stipend, employees can pay for wellness apps, office visits, or even activities that promote overall health and wellness, like yoga studios or exercise classes.
2. Talk frequently and openly about employee mental health
It’s no secret that there’s a stigma around mental health, but you can help combat it in your organization by communicating early and often about workplace mental health.
If you offer benefits that cover employee mental health services, don’t let open enrollment be the only time you talk about it. Remind your employees year-round about the mental health benefits that are available to them.
In addition, make sure your employees each have frequent opportunities to talk to their managers one-on-one. Employee burnout is a worsening problem in today’s workforce, especially among remote employees who have little distinction between work and home.
Frequent one-on-ones give managers a chance to check in on their employees’ stress levels and make adjustments to their workload before things get worse.
3. Make time for fun at work
While most of employees’ day-to-day work is about productivity, it’s important to also give employees a chance to decompress at work to promote their workplace mental health. Whether it’s with office happy hours, monthly book clubs, or virtual games, there are dozens of ways you can incorporate a little fun into your employees’ workday.
Not only does dedicating time to a fun company culture help keep your current employees happy, it’s also a valuable recruiting tool. A survey by Built In found that nearly half of job candidates cite company culture as “very important” when choosing to work at a company.
4. Ensure your employees have adequate vacation time
If you’re noticing a high amount of burnout among your employees, it may be time to revisit your paid time off policy to ensure your employees have enough time away from work. After all, it’s not just important for your employees’ mental health—it’s also a key factor in their productivity.
A survey from the American Psychological Association found that more than half of employees reported feeling more motivated, less stressed, and having more energy at work after using their vacation time.
5. Offer mental health trainings
Another way to tackle workplace mental health issues is to offer mental health trainings to help employees learn valuable coping mechanisms. Reach out in your community to find experts in your area on topics like stress management, mindfulness, imposter syndrome, or whatever topics your employees would benefit from most.
Sending an anonymous survey is an excellent way to find out what topics would interest your employees and help them deal with the mental health challenges they’re facing. For example, if you have a lot of new mothers, your office may benefit from a discussion on postpartum depression.
Not only does this give your employees expert guidance, but it also helps them see they aren’t alone in the challenges they’re dealing with. They may even be able to make connections with others who struggle in the same ways they do.
Prioritizing workplace mental health is an important part of ensuring your employees are ready to bring their best selves to work each day, creating a more motivated, creative, and productive workforce. By supplementing your employee benefits package and focusing on a healthy office culture, you’ll be well on your way to not only retaining the employees you have, but finding new ones as well.
If you’re looking for new ways to offer personalized and affordable benefits to your employees, PeopleKeep can help! Schedule a call with a personalized benefits advisor today.