Why Your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing is Important
For Your Benefit - April 2021

Internal Links Laurie Milligan

Mental health issues have consistently been at the top of most employers’ chronic conditions year after year.  This will certainly be exacerbated by COVID-19, due to parents working from home and helping their children with virtual school, to not seeing loved ones, to worrying about job security and making ends meet.  As we begin to return to normal operations (or a new normal, post-pandemic), now would be a good time to consider focusing on employees’ mental wellbeing and maintaining a caring culture within your organization.

The economic costs of mental illness will be more than cancer, diabetes, and respiratory ailments put together.”  - Thomas Insel, Director National Institute of Mental Health USA.

The Stats

  • One in five Americans experience mental illness in any given year; however, only 41% of those impacted receive mental health services.  Because most employees do not seek treatment or are unable to access care, employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion on an annual basis, due to lost productivity and more importantly, higher health care costs due to stress, anxiety, depression and substance use disorder. * 
  • Employers will spend 12 times more per year on individuals with a complex chronic illness and mental illness than on healthy individuals. **
  • 80% of workers with a mental health condition attribute their non-treatment to shame and stigma.  The average person waits eight to 10 years after the onset of initial symptoms before seeking treatment. ***

What can employers do?

The VBA Benefits Corporation is assisting our participating member banks with several mental health initiatives, and any organization can utilize these valuable tools and resources.

  • The first program is designed to create a caring culture and to remove the stigma of mental health within your bank.  When employees know that their workplace is a safe environment to discuss mental health problems, they are more inclined to seek help knowing they have the support needed to do so.  We are launching a program developed by Center for Workplace Mental Health and DuPont’s Employee Assistance Program – it is an awareness campaign made especially for the workplace, designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and foster a workplace culture that supports emotional health.  For more information, check out their website at https://workplacementalhealth.org/Employer-Resources/ICU
  • The second program is called Mental Health First Aid at Work training.  This is a workplace mental health training program that teaches participants how to notice and support an individual who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use concern or crisis and connect them with the appropriate employee resources; it is perfect for your employees who manage others within the organization.  The training can be conducted onsite or in a virtual environment.  Currently, employers in Virginia can access the training at no charge. For more information, check out their website at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.   

We are investing time and resources to better educate ourselves and our employers on the prevalence of mental health struggles throughout most organizations. By recognizing that these issues are just as serious as cancer or diabetes, employees are more likely to seek treatment that will ultimately lead to healthier lives.

To hear more about this important topic, including how COVID-19 has impacted our mental health claims, please mark your calendar to attend the Tuesday morning breakfast during Annual Convention, where our speaker will be Betsy Nota-Kirby, National Director of Health Management Consulting at Marsh & McLennan Agency, our employee benefit consulting firm.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Laurie Milligan.


*Source:  National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, 2019

**Source:  Medical Cost Trend, Behind the Numbers 2021, Health Research Institute, June 2020

***Source:  State of Mental Health Report Marketplace.