5 effective employee mental health benefits

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Employee mental health benefits are a key component of a successful employee wellbeing strategy. They’ve also become increasingly important to job seekers who are seeking employers that prioritise mental health.

To remain competitive, employers must take an integrative approach to mental health that decreases stigma, increases easy access and weaves mental health into the company culture.

In this article, we cover five effective employee benefits that will help you take your employee mental health conversation to new heights.

The importance of employee mental health benefits

Mental illness in the workplace has reached unprecedented rates.
According to Calm’s 2024 Voice of the Workplace report, over two-thirds of employees reported that their mental health either declined or plateaued in the last year, and 81% reported having recently struggled with nervousness, anxiety and stress.

For most employees, the workplace has a notable impact on their mental health. Calm’s report also found that 65% of employees say their managers significantly influence their mental health, and more than half are worried about the impact of technological advances on their jobs.

As a result, mental health support has become a top priority for employees who no longer want to have to choose between their job and their mental health – and they’re looking to their employers for support.

The employer role in employee mental health

According to the report, low use rates boil down to a combination of feeling overwhelmed by the health care system and a lack of awareness of what benefits are available.

Employees need simplified access to mental health support. And employers can help by offering benefits that are easy to access and support efforts to integrate mental health into the workplace culture.

5 effective employee mental health benefits

The following are employee benefits that support mental health at work:

1. Mental health and meditation apps

Phone apps designed to improve mental health and wellness can support employees by offering guidance and resources whenever they’d like. They’re convenient, easy to use and offer personalised support to meet the unique needs of each employee.

Like other phone app categories, however, not all apps are created equal. Some are more focused on meditation and mindfulness, while others provide therapy in real time via text, chat or video calls. Additionally, some, but not all expenses through these apps can be covered by insurance.

When considering which apps you’d like to offer employees, be sure to determine how employees or the organisation will pay for services. Also, reach out to your insurance provider, as it may have partnered with a mental health app service or even have its own.

2. Membership assistance and discounts

Assistance and discounts for health-related memberships allow employees to practice physical and mental self-care. Memberships can be to a gym, yoga studio, meditation group, or even to a spa, a sensory deprivation or a massage provider.

With the increased number of remote employees, it’s important to ensure the membership assistance you offer is available where your employees live.

To ensure access, it’s best to offer membership assistance with criteria for eligible memberships instead of creating partnerships with a particular gym chain, for example. This will allow employees to choose a membership that best fits their individual needs and self-care preferences.

3. Paid time off and mental health days

Paid time off (PTO) is an essential benefit that supports employee mental health and work-life balance. It provides employees with the flexibility to manage responsibilities outside work and gives them time to be away from one of their primary stressors: work.

Unfortunately, PTO is underutilised, particularly for purposes focused on wellness. Often, employees use PTO to attend family events, due to sickness (depending on the time off policy), or for doctor’s appointments or vacations. It’s not often that an employee decides to take PTO simply because they need rest.

To encourage employees to use PTO to rest and recover, train managers to encourage employees to take time off and model that behaviour themselves. You can also offer paid mental health days to bring awareness to using PTO for restful purposes.

4. Workplace education

One employee mental health benefit that often slips under the radar is free workplace education, such as webinars, training and expert speakers. Workplace education raises awareness about mental health, provides employees with tools and resources they can use in their work and reduces stigma around mental health.

Investing in workplace education and ensuring leadership attends these events also shows employees that the organisation prioritises mental health. Over time, intentionally focusing on mental health will help organisations integrate mental health as a key part of the workplace culture.

5. Mental health-focused activities and spaces

The shift towards remote and hybrid work has forever changed “the office as we know it.” While some offices essentially became ghost towns, others transformed into something better. Today, organisations can repurpose office space to serve employee needs that go well beyond their desk.

Specifically, these spaces can be used to support employee mental health. For example, organisations can create spaces to:

  • Do yoga.
  • Engage in fun activities focused on mental health.
  • Invite facilitators such as therapy dog facilitators.
  • Create a quiet cellphone free “mindfulness” space where employees can take a break, meditate or just relax.

Regardless of how you designate space in the organisation, the key is to spread awareness and encourage use by ensuring managers and other leaders are using these spaces as well.

Other ways to support employee mental health

The above employee mental health benefits are proven to support employee mental health, but employer efforts shouldn’t stop there. In addition to offering the above, consider other benefits and strategies to make an impact on the culture of the organisation, such as:

  • Flexible work.
  • Psychological safety workshops and training.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion programming.
  • Financial counseling.

Most importantly, continue to talk about mental health at work. The more we discuss mental health and promote openness, the more likely employees are to take advantage of the resources available.