Tapping into Employer-provided Mental Health Benefits

As the stressors of the last few years increased the attention paid to mental health, many employers realized that they should play the same kind of role in their employees’ mental well-being as they do in their physical health. As a result, many have increased coverages for mental health services. In fact, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that about 40% of employers have added mental health services to their benefits offerings. Following are some of the benefits typically offered.

EAP. This is often the first and most accessible employer-sponsored benefit resource addressing mental health. EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) usually include free counseling services.

Wellness benefits. These sort of umbrella benefits – ranging from paid “mental health days” to workplace screenings and more – seek to support workers’ overall well-being. They often are as focused on physical health as mental health, as the two have proven to be complementary.

Traditional therapy. “Talk therapy” can be expensive, but a lot of benefit programs provide enough coverage to make it more affordable.

Text-based apps. These have become increasingly popular because they allow individuals to chat with counselors via text, and possibly even via video, without others in their workplace being aware they are seeking mental health services. Some employer benefit programs provide coverage for these apps, and others usually permit health savings account (HSA) funds to be used to pay for them.

Telehealth and virtual mental health services. As we’ve all become more accustomed to telehealth and communicating via Zoom, Teams and their peers, the use of such services for health and mental health services has also increased. These services can be especially helpful for specific, short-term problems, and, while coverages will vary, HSAs usually can be used to pay for sessions.

Make sure to utilize the mental health and wellness benefits provided to you by your employer. If you’re not sure how to access these benefits, reach out to your HR department.

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