By Kate Kriner, PHRca

We are all aware of the myriad of daily obstacles our employees face. These obstacles include family members falling ill, children having special needs, and, of course, personal health issues or stress, which can affect their mental well-being and their ability to do their jobs. As much as we want our employees to maintain peak performance and be “all in,” there are times when this is not going to be feasible, and thus, we may need to provide avenues for assistance and relief. 

How can we help our employees or reduce some of that stress?  Outlined below are some strategies and suggestions you, as the employer, can implement to support the mental well-being for your employees:  

  1. Review your health insurance benefits: If you offer health insurance benefits, check to see what mental health coverage is provided. Your insurance plan must offer mental health coverage at the same level as for other medical conditions. While you likely can’t entirely eliminate the financial cost of services, having insurance will significantly reduce your employees’ costs. Many employees don’t know that they have the same coverage for mental and behavioral health conditions as they do for other medical conditions.
  2. Explore Employee Assistance Programs (EAP):  If you offer health insurance, investigate the possibility of integrating an EAP to your existing policy (or see if you already have one). EAPs are a great referral source and can connect your employees to many services and providers for a variety of both personal and work-related issues. Some EAP plans will cover the cost of the first few counseling sessions. Additionally, some health insurance carriers will include an EAP plan with their health insurance plan at no extra cost to the employer. 
  3. Promote Awareness and Accessibility:  Ensure your employees know about both options—health insurance and access to an EAP. Incorporate these discussions during benefit enrollment meetings and when onboarding new employees.  Post flyers or include a banner with information on your intranet or through your payroll software. Additionally, equip your HR team and supervisors with knowledge about the plans and how your employees can access the services offered. 

In situations where an employee is talking about suicide or exhibiting concerning behavior(s) and immediate intervention is warranted, please refer them to the Suicide Prevention Hotline or you can visit Help Someone Else – 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for resources. In addition to the information provided by the Hotline, most local law enforcement agencies will perform a wellness check and offer crisis resources. Of course, if you have concerns or believe one of your employees is in immediate danger, call 911.