While 53 per cent of employees said their employer has provided good support during the coronavirus pandemic, 40 per cent reported difficulty in accessing mental-health care through their workplace benefits plan, according to a new survey by Mercer.

The survey, conducted among 14,000 employees across 13 countries, found access to quality mental-health care was more difficult for low-wage earners (47 per cent) and employees identifying as LGBTQ2S+ (58 per cent). Among LGBTQ2S+ respondents, 61 per cent described employer mental-health support as “highly or extremely valuable.”

Read: Employers prioritizing mental health, permanent hybrid work 1.5 years into pandemic

A quarter (25 per cent) of respondents who reported good support from their employer were much less likely to view their personal experience of the pandemic as mostly or entirely negative, compared to 49 per cent of those who said they received little or no support. In addition, almost half (45 per cent) of those receiving good support said they’re less likely to leave their job as a result.

More than half (55 per cent) of respondents said the ability to customize a package of benefits to meet individual needs is highly or extremely valued. Among employees who were offered 10 or more health and well-being benefits or resources by their employer, 52 per cent said their benefits are a reason to stay with their company, compared to only 32 per cent of those offered one to five benefits or resources.

A fifth (20 per cent) of employees used telemedicine for the first time during the pandemic and 72 per cent of these respondents said they intend to keep using it, while 23 per cent of existing telemedicine users increased their usage. The virtual health-care services deemed most valuable were counselling via video chat (42 per cent) and text (38 per cent) with a therapist, as well as virtual mental-health advice via text chats powered by artificial intelligence (31 per cent).

Read: North American employees experiencing highest stress levels amid pandemic: survey