Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of U.S. employees who are caregivers for dependants with mental-health challenges wish their employers would offer more mental-health benefits, according to a new survey by the New York Life Insurance Co.

The survey, which polled 1,000 employees, found mental-health benefits play a key role in employee satisfaction. The vast majority of respondents said these benefits contribute to positive working experiences (92 per cent), make them feel supported by their employer (92 per cent) and are a reason to remain in their current role (83 per cent).

Read: Expert panel: How employers can support employee mental health in 2023

In addition, a majority (80 per cent) of employees said helping dependants manage mental-health challenges has impacted their own mental health and stress levels and six in 10 (61 per cent) said caregiving has impacted their work productivity. Indeed, nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents have helped a loved one live with a mental-health challenge in the last year and 45 per cent of this group noted their dependant is experiencing mental-health challenges more often this year than in the previous year.

Although many respondents said they’re feeling stressed (62 per cent), exhausted (48 per cent), distracted (48 per cent) and overwhelmed (47 per cent) at work, nearly half (47 per cent) admitted they avoid taking time off to support their own or a loved one’s mental health. A similar percentage (46 per cent) cited heavy workloads as a reason for not attending to their self care. A significant number of respondents — particularly women (63 per cent) — said they haven’t informed their company about their need to support their dependants’ mental health.

Read: How employers can support Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, caregivers

The survey also found two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents reported needing more assistance to address their own mental health. Although more than half (54 per cent) are familiar with the mental-health resources offered by their employer, 48 per cent said they haven’t used these resources and 31 per cent said this was by choice. More than a quarter (29 per cent) said they don’t believe there’s anyone at their company who’s equipped to help them find resources if they had mental-health challenges.

“Employers have the power to create a workplace culture that supports mental well-being and individuals at all levels can play a role,” said Meghan Shea, vice-president and head of strategy and solutions for group benefits at New York Life, in a press release.

“Human resources and benefits teams can be advocates at the company level, making sure that mental-health resources and programs are communicated to employees. But what’s often missing are advocates at the local level, such as team leads and managers. By training managers on how to effectively discuss mental-health needs with their employees, they can reinforce and drive awareness of available support during one-on-one discussions.”

Read: One in four Canadians taking on caregiving responsibilities: StatsCan