Published by Andrea Workman on August 11th, 2021

Mental health affects everyone; from world-class Olympic athletes to the SLIGHTLY less athletic-insurance professionals like you and me. It’s always been that way, but the difference is, society at large is more aware of the impacts and more open to discussing the topic of mental health.

This has all kinds of impacts at work. More and more I see companies understanding the value of their employees and the importance of supporting them as a whole person, not just as an employee. This swirl of factors: heightened acceptance, changing employee and employer expectations and the mental health challenges of a global pandemic – they all point to one thing. It’s time to start talking about mental health benefits.

The changing conversation around mental health

The openness with which we can discuss mental health is difficult to measure, but you almost don’t need to. Look on social media, look in the news; the amount of discussion on the topic has increased dramatically from what you have seen even 3-4 years ago, let alone 10 or more years ago. It’s undeniable that the pandemic has accelerated some of this, but the bottom line is the conversation is happening and it’s a good thing.

On top of that, heightened awareness means you’re seeing even more research into the effects that mental health has on job performance, on companies and on an individual’s overall well-being. It may not be breaking news, but some of those stats are telling about mental health (and substance abuse too):
  • The average share of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder has increased by 30% since 20191
  • More than 1 in ten (12 percent) say that worry or stress related to the pandemic has lead to increased alcohol or drug use2
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity3
Employees and employers today are more aware, more open and more informed than ever before.

What you see from employees and employers

Given this environment, you see more and more employers taking action. I’ve seen all kinds of ways employers have tried to build a healthier workplace. Some are things that existed before but are more prevalent now: wellness programs and employee benefits to provide security. And with good reason, 75 percent of adults agree that, due to the pandemic, they feel that access to benefits through an employer is more important than ever.4

Especially with the pandemic, workplace flexibility in terms of hours and working remotely have become exponentially more common. Employers seem to be more aware of the need to strike the right work life balance. I’d go so far to predict that some of those things that were initially laughed at – ping pong tables at work, napping rooms and the like may become even more commonplace as employers look to foster a more caring environment that supports an employee’s mental health.

What does the next step look like?

So, where do employer go from here? Well, as you might have guessed from the title of my blog here, I think it’s time that they start including mental health benefits as part of a benefit offering to employees. That means offering financial support through an insurance product that will help them cover the costs of a hospital visit or rehabilitation for substance abuse.

The reasons for this are fairly obvious. One, if an employer is serious about creating a nurturing environment that addresses the whole person, today’s employees are more and more likely to expect that mental health be accounted for. And, secondly, there’s the straightforward need: mental health care, rehabilitation and hospitalization are expensive.

The mental health conversation is happening and the insurance industry needs to be fast to react. Looking at benefits like Trustmark’s Hospital StayPay, Paycheck Protect and Critical HealthEvents products, that provide mental health benefits are a great place to start. Introducing products like this can support the initiatives that employers and employees today value and need.
1The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2021.
2KFF Health Tracking Poll. Kaiser Family Foundation. July 2020.
3The Ripple Effect on Mental Illness. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
4Infographic: Pandemic has employees rethinking the value of benefits. BenefitsPro. 2020.

See how Trustmark can help you build a healthier workplace: