Mental health increasingly on the radar of Canadian employers as a workplace and benefits issue
Aon survey finds almost all employers offer paramedical benefits for psychology, and many are adopting programs to support employee mental health
TORONTO (July 9, 2019) – Canadian employers are increasingly realizing the rising individual and business risks presented by mental health issues, and most are offering paramedical psychology benefits and other programs that support workplace mental health, according to a new survey by Aon, the leading global professional services firm that provides a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions.
“While fewer than half of the employers we talked to identified mental health as a serious business risk now, a much larger proportion foresee it developing into one over the next five years,” said Kim Siddall, Vice President, Health Solutions, Aon. “They are already taking steps to address that developing risk. For instance, many are now isolating psychology benefit maximums from other paramedical ceilings and are covering a broader range of practitioner types, including family therapists, social workers and clinical counsellors.
“All this points to a growing realization among employers that they will have to do more to support workplace mental health in the future”, she added. “In fact, most are now or are considering a range of non-benefits-related programs to protect workplace mental health, such as physical health promotion, addiction counselling, and even yoga classes and dedicated meditation spaces.”
- Fewer than half of employers (43%) identify mental health as a “serious” business risk now, but 61% anticipate it will be one in five years.
- A high proportion (73%) of employers provide psychology maximums on a stand-alone basis, rather than lumped in under the maximum for other paramedical benefits. Arguably, that strategy demonstrates a growing recognition of mental health risk and a strengthening commitment to addressing it.
- The most common paramedical psychology maximum offered is in the $500-$1,000 range; among financial services and tech firms, however, the trend is higher, with typical maximums falling with a range of $1,000 to $5,000.
- The Top 5 non-benefits-related supports for workplace mental health among surveyed employers are employee assistance programs (EAPs), physical health promotion, personal finance or debt counselling, addiction counselling and self-help sessions on topics like stress or time management.
- Among the emerging areas of interest for mental health supports, a majority of employers identified virtual health services, tech-based behaviour awareness tools and peer support networks (in-person and online) as considerations for the future.
- Fewer than half of employers are taking steps to measure the success of their mental health initiatives. In the survey, 60% reported that they undertake no measurement at all, while a minority evaluate the incidence of employees accessing benefits (26%), evaluate changes in short-term-disability claiming patterns (24%) and/or evaluate impact on casual absenteeism (13%).
- Organizations have an opportunity to better make linkages between their spending on mental health and their overall benefits plan cost control.
For more information, please visit the survey.