Make Mental Health Benefits a Top Priority in the New Year


Mental health has become an increasingly important issue in recent years. As employees grapple with rising stress levels, anxiety and depression, employers are forced to navigate how to deal with mental health and wellness in their organization.

Why should employers care?

Since employers are required to focus on their businesses’ bottom line, mental health support is becoming a pivotal part to benefit offerings. A 2023 study by mindfulness app Calm found that for every $1 invested in employees’ mental health, employers can save $2-$4 on other expenses, such as health-care costs — that’s a win-win in today’s economic climate. In addition, other benefits include:

  • Increased productivity — Employees with access to mental health support are more likely to be productive, as they can better manage work-related stress and challenges.
  • Reduced absenteeism — Mental health benefits can help reduce absenteeism caused by mental health issues, leading to employer cost savings. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that depression alone causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers $17 billion to $44 billion.

What employers can do to start?

Review benefits offerings. One way to address employee mental health is by ensuring mental health is incorporated into health-care offerings. These are some popular benefits or policies:

  • Inclusive health insurance plans with mental health coverage
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Paid caregiving leave
  • Mental health days

Educate employees about available benefits. In addition to educating employees about available mental health benefits and resources, employers can explain how to leverage other benefits to make mental health treatment and services more attainable or offset out-of-pocket expenses. For example, funds from health savings and flexible spending accounts can generally be used to pay for mental health therapy.

How Can I Support Employee Wellness?

Exercise, healthy eating and good sleep habits are crucial for mental health and resilience. Employers can boost employees’ mental health by encouraging healthy behaviors through wellness programs and offering employee incentives, such as healthy lunches and free gym memberships. Employers should also consider offering employee assistance benefits (for example, free counseling or therapy) to help employees struggling with mental health or other problems.

How Do I Figure Out What Benefits We Already Have?

It’s recommended that all employers verify with their health and welfare broker(s) as to what offerings they have. Many mental health services are already included with insurance services such as, but not limited to, health insurance plans, STD (Short-Term-Disability and LTD (Long-Term-Disability) plans.

Have an HR Question? The MBA Can Help!

The MBA knows that urgent employment issues can arise at a moment’s notice. Members can
call our certified HR specialists and labor and employment law attorneys anytime, at no charge for counsel on a broad range of workplace-related issues including:

  • Hiring and firing practices
  • Company policies
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employment law
  • Employment agreements
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Affirmative Action Plans
  • Unemployment compensation claims
  • Employee handbook policies
  • OSHA compliance
  • Sexual harassment
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

Call today at 814/833-3200 or 800/815-2660, or email

Rachel Tserkovniak, SPHR,
is an HR consultant and trainer at the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact her at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or