The pandemic, along with many difficult social and global issues, pressed individuals from every side — physically, financially, emotionally and even socially. According to the American Psychological Association, 67% of Americans report increased stress over the course of the pandemic, which created a tremendous need to proactively address mental and emotional health challenges, particularly in the workplace.
Employers are increasingly concerned about the mental well-being of their workforce and why it is important to offer solutions that focus on this highly complex area of employee wellness. Below are three important ways employers can protect their workforce in challenging times.
1. Earlier detection means earlier intervention.
Prior to the pandemic, nearly 1 in 5 adults experienced mental health illness — equivalent to 50 million Americans — and that’s just the reported cases. Often people can be suffering a mental or emotional challenge and not even realize it, but detecting challenges early can be lifesaving and help prevent increased medical costs down the road. That’s why earlier this year, Aflac partnered with NeuroFlow to offer a program for its Group Long-term Disability policies with 1,000 or more covered lives. The program offers access to NeuroFlow’s mental health and well-being application that screens and monitors existing and undetected behavioral health conditions. This solution is designed to help close the gap that may exist in an employer’s behavioral health program by proactively helping individuals self-detect potential issues like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and more. Employee assistance programs are another crucial resource that can offer access to behavioral health specialists to assist with workplace challenges as well as personal situations requiring counseling and resources.
2. Paid leave and disability insurance work hand in hand.
A worker’s mental health can impact their productivity and may be the reason they need to take time away. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed not only how important it is for employees to have time off to care for themselves and loved ones, but it also showed the need for income protection. Having this type of safety net is crucial to overall mental health and well-being. Paid leave and disability insurance can work together to give workers the support they need to take time away to care for themselves and others. It’s important for employers to routinely review their disability and paid time off programs in order to create competitive packages that attract and retain talent within budget constraints. Ultimately, these programs ensure workers can take the time they need without fearing a loss of income to pay their bills.
Read more: Disability insurance can forge the path toward health equity
3. Financial protection helps alleviate stress and burnout.
Americans feel the pressure of living paycheck to paycheck and being ill-prepared for an unexpected medical event. This presents a unique and important opportunity for employers and their vendors to provide education and consultation about the actual costs that the individual or family can expect to bear. When employers offer products like supplemental insurance, they are not only alleviating a burden, but they’re also empowering employees to take control of unexpected health events in their lives.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average deductible for individual, employer-provided coverage was $1,669 in 2021. Meanwhile, almost half (46%) of all employees indicate that they would not be able to pay more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs for an unexpected illness or injury. Family coverage deductibles are even higher, and deductibles won’t count some of the unforeseen out-of-network or out-of-pocket costs like missed paychecks. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that half of all American workers report having high anxiety about health care costs beyond what their insurance covers.
Holistic health and wellness benefits strategies
Mental health and wellness continue to have a far-reaching effect on today’s workforce. By identifying potential mental health concerns earlier and providing self-help resources to address them, workers are able to be more productive at work. Working closely with employers and covered members to access and use the resources they have is essential to maintaining a healthy workforce.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort