Mental health coverage for workers nearly doubles in 5 years

Most employers list stress as top issue impacting productivity: survey
||Last Updated: 10/10/2019
mental health
Workplaces have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels, says one expert. Shutterstock

Mental health benefit offerings are on the rise according to a new survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).

The share of organizations that provide mental health coverage has nearly doubled over the past five years, from 40 per cent in 2014 to 79 per cent in 2019.

And most employers plan to either increase (69 per cent) or maintain (30 per cent) their emphasis on mental health offerings over the next two years, found the survey of 96 Canadian employers.

Over half (52 per cent) said it’s been their largest health-care cost increase over the past five years.

"Our society as a whole is increasingly more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues, and that way of thinking is making its way into the workplace,” says Julie Stich, vice-president of content at the IFEBP.

“Workplace guidelines in place by the Mental Health Commission of Canada have provided further support for advancing this issue on a national level.”

The top offerings for mental health initiatives at Canadian workplaces include.

  • employee assistance programs (EAPs): 88 per cent
  • mental health coverage: 79 per cent
  • substance abuse treatment coverage/benefits: 41 per cent
  • mental health educational/informational sessions at the workplace: 41 per cent
  • mental health first aid training: 31 per cent
  • mental health assessment included in health risk assessment (HRA): 26 per cent
  • ·on-site mindfulness/meditation classes: 23 per cent

The majority (76 per cent) of employers listed stress as the top issue negatively impacting workplace productivity. 

“At this point, it seems as though workplaces have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels,” says Stich. “Almost 70 per cent of organizations report that their efforts have been somewhat effective in reducing work-related stress, but only two per cent reported ‘very effective’ results.”

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