Health benefits

Employers Improve Mental Health Benefits in Next Three Years, Poll Finds


Three-quarters (74 percent) of plan sponsors said they were effective in helping employees cope with stress, unchanged from 2020 and up significantly from 58 percent in 2011, when the question was asked for the first time. This percentage rose to 82 percent among plan sponsors with a flexible benefit plan, compared to 71 percent with a traditional plan.

Read: Claims for health benefits paid to support mental health increased by 24% in 2020: ACCAP

About half (48 percent) of plan sponsors reported having a training program for managers (40 percent) or employees (34 percent) to help them recognize and respond to signs of depression or d ‘other mental health problems. Mental health training was more common among plan sponsors with flexible plans (61%), as well as employers with more than 500 employees (71%), with a unionized workforce (70%) or those in the public sector (66 percent).

“Plan sponsors help employees cope with stress, but the majority don’t have training programs to help leaders recognize the signs of mental health issues in the workforce,” said Barb Martinez, Advisory Board Member and National Practice Leader for Drug Solutions in Canada. Life, in the report. “So if employees don’t come forward, they’re less likely to benefit from the help available. It’s a big disconnect. As insurers, we can do more to promote the management training programs we offer, free of charge.

The survey also found that around one-fifth (19 percent) of plan sponsors recently increased their maximum coverage level for mental health counseling services, a number that has increased among those with 500 or more employees. (30 percent), as well as for companies that have experienced a positive financial impact from the pandemic (28 percent) and those with a unionized workforce (27 percent). While the current maximum median coverage level for mental health counseling is $ 750, 21% of plan sponsors have a maximum between $ 1,001 and $ 5,000, while 7% have a maximum over $ 5,000. .

Read: Employers boost mental health benefits during pandemic: survey

Plan sponsors (90%) were more likely to agree that their culture promotes health and wellness, consistently across all sizes of organization. And plan sponsors with a culture of wellness were also more likely to invest in areas of wellness outside of their benefit plan, such as emotional or mental health (52 percent vs. 38 percent employers without a culture of well-being) and physical fitness (29 percent vs. 15 percent).

“Organizations that have invested in a culture of wellness have fared much better during the pandemic,” said Allison Gordon, advisory board member and vice president of sales at Teledoc Health, in the report. “It’s no surprise that employers are becoming smarter buyers of wellness tools and resources, in part thanks to digital solutions that cut costs and appeal to employees and their families for their accessibility and ease of use. ‘use.

The survey also found that mental health issues were the leading chronic illness among plan participants, with 21 percent reporting being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue. Additionally, plan members working in health care (30 percent) and education (36 percent) reported much higher rates of diagnosis, as did women (26 percent, compared to 15 percent). hundred of men).

One-third (36 percent) of plan participants reported increased feelings of anxiety or sadness / depression in the past year, reaching 45 percent in women and 41 percent in participants aged 18 to 18. 34-year-olds, the latter group (26 percent) percent) more likely to report a mental health problem.

Download the Benefits Canada Healthcare 2021 Survey Report here.