Mental health benefits
What are mental health benefits?
As the name suggests, mental health benefits are offered by employers to help employees look after their mental health. This can be through a number of methods, from paid interventions like therapy or counselling, to activities like yoga, meditation or mentorship.
Mental health benefits are usually offered as part of a company's rewards package, alongside other perks like annual leave and pensions, as well as other health insurance benefits.
As an employer, why should you offer mental health benefits?
Employers have a responsibility to create a safe and healthy working environment for their employees.
Mental health issues can affect anyone at any point during their career. And with the World Health Organisation estimating that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion each year – not to mention 52% of employees admitting to feeling burnt out – it’s a problem that needs to be taken seriously.
For employers, offering a programme of mental health benefits is one way for leaders to support their teams in times of need. It’s also worth training team leads to identify signs of poor mental health and give them the tools and skills to develop more resilient employees.
Bear in mind that offering mental health benefits can help to attract and retain workers. For example, this study found that 79% of employees are likely to stick in a job that provides high-quality mental health resources. Mental health benefits are all over job descriptions these days, with many employees seeing them as a key driver to accepting a new role. Some employees may even choose one company over another based on the specific benefits they offer.
Types of mental health benefits
Depending on your budget, preferences and the country your business operates in, there are a range of mental health benefits you could offer. In the UK, here are some of the options available:
- Free access to online mental health programs: Online programs such as mental health apps offer 24/7 access to mental health support, advice and practical information. So employees can get the help they need at any time of day or not, at no cost to them. Mental health charity Mind offers a selection of the best mental health providers and online tools.
- Mental health days: Mental health days are becoming an increasingly common part of employers’ benefits packages. These are days off work that employees are encouraged to use to focus on their mental wellbeing and switch off from the daily grind.
- Mental health courses: There are plenty of courses out there that aim to teach employees techniques and strategies to manage their mental health. For example, Laughology helps teams to understand the different mental illnesses and take preventative measures, while helping leaders to recognise early signs and symptoms.
- Therapy sessions: Therapy sessions can help employees work through any issues they might be facing, or just provide them with a friendly face to talk to. You can search the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) for registered therapists in your area.
- Subsidised gyms and yoga sessions: While these might be considered physical health benefits, fitness and yoga have long been recognised for their positive impact on the brain, too. Offering these at a reduced cost (or for free) is an easy way to get employees involved.
- Mental health mentors: Some businesses employ trained mentors to provide employees with individual guidance and support. Mentors can personalise their advice and help people to self-manage and cope with stressful situations.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs are third party services that employers can bring on board to provide employees with access to mental health support sessions. This could be online, over the phone or face-to-face.
- Paid time off: Paid time off in the form of an annual leave allowance can help employees to take time away from work and properly unwind. Some start-ups and other businesses even offer unlimited holidays in a bid to show employees they trust them to manage their own workloads and allow them to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some suggestions for promoting wellbeing in the workplace.