Mental Health In the Workplace Series: Part 2

Mental Health In the Workplace Series Part 2

The Evolving EAP

This is the second in a three-part series about employee mental health trends and the impacts on tomorrow’s workforce.
Mental Health In the Workplace Series Part 2
Your clients may be wondering if it’s time to reevaluate their company’s mental health resources. For many employers, just having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) isn’t enough. EAPs have greatly evolved over the past 10 years - from a simple phone number to a robust care offering that includes in-person and virtual services. Yet, this isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ program.

“Make sure the EAP still aligns with employees’ needs,” says Dr. Michael LaCroix, medical director at The Hartford. “One way to gauge is to examine an EAP’s general, non-identifying data on total number of sessions and reasons for visits.”
EAP services today may now include financial counseling, help in finding end-of-life care for family members and discounts on pricey purchases like vacations and vehicles. Some EAP services are available for an employee’s family members as well. There are also digital apps, which might help with certain stress, anxiety or insomnia issues, as well as wellness programs that could address diet and exercise. But apps may not be the answer for all employees, Dr. LaCroix says.
“EAPs need to be efficient at triaging the severity of an individual’s condition,” he says. “Would the employee benefit from a short online course? For more severe issues, it may be appropriate to recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist and, if possible, one in the employee’s health insurance network.”

Awareness and Inclusion

It’s not easy for everyone to talk about their struggles, and stigma related to mental health remains one of the biggest barriers to treatment and support. To help normalize conversations around mental health and drive benefits utilization, consult with your clients on ways to increase awareness of EAPs or other programs while fostering an open, inclusive culture.
This is especially important for younger workers. The Hartford’s research found that Gen Z workers, more than other generations, are more likely to say that stigma prevents them from seeking mental health help.1
Some strategies your clients can use to promote mental health awareness in the workplace include:
  • Use destigmatizing language: Promote use of respectful, person-first language, such as a “a person living with schizophrenia,” rather than, “he’s a schizophrenic.”
  • Design supportive spaces: Consider providing a comfortable, private space where workers can use relaxation techniques, or encourage employees to take breaks for walks or quiet time.
  • Communicate resources: Frequently promote available support programs and services.
  • Offer peer-to-peer advocacy: Consider creating an employee-based group that provides a safe space for conversation and resources.

Broader Support for Your Clients’ Employees

An important lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is the continued need to be flexible, Dr. LaCroix says. As your clients bring more of their remote workforce back onsite, they may find that some workers are pushing back because the modified work strategies worked well for their mental health. 
Your clients should consider these approaches to support their employees:
  • Restructure schedules or workload
  • Use technology to improve specific workflow and daily tasks
  • Invest in mental health training for managers and employee education
  • Create fun work activities to help build a sense of community
“Employers are in a unique position to help millions of Americans,” Dr LaCroix says. “But if it’s the work that stresses employees, giving out an EAP number won’t solve the problem. The support employers offer can and should include a range of resources, because when it comes to mental health, one size does not fit all.”

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1 The Hartford's 2023 Future of Benefits Study.
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., (NYSE: HIG) operates through its subsidiaries, including underwriting company Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company under the brand name, The Hartford,® and is headquartered at One Hartford Plaza, Hartford, CT 06155. For additional details, please read The Hartford’s legal notice at Todos los beneficios están sujetos a los términos y condiciones de la póliza. Policies underwritten by the underwriting company listed above detail exclusions, limitations, reduction of benefits and terms under which the policies may be continued in force or discontinued.