Americans are dealing with increasing mental health issues — and it’s affecting their work. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is creating a vast appetite for counseling, therapy, and prescription drugs to help with mental health. According to recent census data, 22.3 million Americans have recently received professional help with their mental health. Unfortunately, the number of Americans who say they need help, but haven’t gotten it, is actually larger: 23.6 million. That’s a jump of nearly a third from this time last year.

What does this mean for businesses? Poor mental health can cost as much as poor physical health in employees. A 2018 study from Penn State found that a single poor mental health day in a month costs the economy nearly 2% in per capital real income growth rate. The result, at the time, could be $53 billion less in total income annually. The loss of productivity alone due to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues makes this rising need for mental health support an issue employers which can’t ignore.

More Than Yoga Class

Employers working to support mental health have access to a variety of tools. But supporting employees’ mental health goes further than just offering products like wellness classes or mindfulness apps. New solutions continue to arise that offer employees the opportunity to be heard and work through their problems — something that many employees falling in the gray area between those in need of a pick-me-up and those who need professional assistance or a medical diagnosis.

EAPs continue to offer value to employers, but the number of counseling sessions included with EAP tends to be on the rise. When EAP first arrived on the scene, many employers offered two or three sessions with a counselor. Now industry experts say that number is rising. As many as ten sessions is becoming common, with support for a wide range of life events that are major causes of stress for employees.

Online chats, AI assessments, and telemedicine counseling sessions are also on the rise. From chatbots powered by artificial intelligence to help employees gauge their best next steps, to online apps offering counseling sessions or a phone call with a real professional, these programs offer easy access to mental health support that provides real advice and support.

Get Out The Word – Over and Over Again

One key that can’t be left out? Constant communication. Get employees excited about the offerings your company is adding — then keep talking about them. In regular email blasts, text messages, team meetings, table-talkers — whether your employees are interacting online or in-person, keeping them informed is key to boosting engagement. Use anecdotes, personal experiences (with permission, of course), and connect the dots between common issues like insomnia with the mental health resources available.

For ease of use, single sign-on benefits websites, and communications tools that keep your employees informed, Web Benefits Design’s benefits administration platforms are uniquely positioned to give your employees access to the mental health resources your company is working so hard to deliver. Click here to learn more about our benefits solutions for both core and voluntary benefits, plus HR functions to streamline your entire department.