Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted by Eileen Dooley on June 08, 2020

The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month. June is here and mental health awareness should be just as important and available.

It should serve as no surprise that mental health awareness in the workplace is on the top of minds for many human resource managers. Even before COVID 19 took the country by storm, many individuals struggled with varying degrees of mental health challenges. As the virus infiltrated our country, and many states implemented executive orders for shutdowns, employers faced the challenge of determining the employment fate of their employees. Some employers were forced to terminate or lay off employees, while others tried to quickly incorporate creative work at home solutions.

Moving employees from their physical work place to their homes to work may have solved the important economic issue of keeping businesses afloat under the stay at home executive order. What could not have been anticipated was the impact to employees whose work environment was completely turned upside down. Many employees were simply not equipped with the necessary IT equipment, connectivity or physical space in the home to accommodate their new home offices. Maybe more problematic were other issues within the home caused by the pandemic. School and day care shutdowns, spousal layoffs, potential illness of family members in or out of the home were challenges many employees also faced. The magnitude of multiple stressors for many employees can result in previously absent mental health issues. Unfortunately these issues when left untreated are as detrimental as physical health issues.

While mental health issues are nothing new, the awareness, acceptance and understanding of them still pale in comparison to physical health issues. This new work at home phenomenon and the impact it has had on the mental health of employees may have brought about some awareness and subsequently necessitated additional resources for anyone struggling with symptoms of behavioral or mental health. As a result of Mental Health Awareness Month and the mental health challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many carriers are providing valuable resources for employers and members. Many medical carriers are now offering telehealth and mental telehealth visits at no charge. This allows an employee to confidentially speak with a professional online without having to leave their homes. Many carriers have also created online mental health wellness resources which provide members access to meditation, exercise and diet, sleep solutions and other stress management. Many non medical carriers are also offering free Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that also provide telephonic support and online resources for employees which include legal and financial guidance, webinars, parental and childcare support, grief and loss, professional counseling and much more.

While the stress caused by COVID19 impacts many in ways that aren’t always physically visible, it is important for everyone – employers, employees and their family and friends to know that resources are available to them. Healthy employees are as necessary to employers as all of the other components needed to keep a business afloat. Employers should be cognizant of their employees well being and understand that the availability of resources to assist in mental health wellness is paramount the overall business success.

Don't hesitate to reach out to your broker or your medical, life and disability carriers for resources and ways to keep your employees healthy and happy.

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About the author Eileen Dooley

Eileen Dooley is the Vice president of Group Benefits Armada Risk Partners - Detroit, an all-risk insurance brokerage. As a seasoned benefits client manager and consultant, Eileen brings forth a diverse background in Employee Benefits and specializes in helping clients evaluate, manage, understand and implement their benefits.