Scotiabank is increasing its focus on mental health through expanded benefits coverage and additional training for employees in leadership roles.

Beginning April 1, 2022, all eligible employees and dependants will have $10,000 — up from a previous limit of $3,000 — in mental well-being services as part of their core coverage, including access to clinical counsellors, internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy and psychologists.

Employees can also assign funds into a wellness account where coverage for mental-health support can be extended more broadly to family members beyond dependants such as parents, siblings and adult children living in Canada.

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Dominic Cole-Morgan, senior vice-president of total rewards at Scotiabank, says the expanded coverage announcement has received positive feedback from employees. “We’ve had a number of employees who said they were about to hit the $3,000 limit and they’re so grateful they can continue with the treatment they’ve been undertaking. . . . We were seeing that [the number of] employees reaching that maximum was up 2.5 times [in 2020] and we also got feedback demonstrating that employees were struggling with mental health. Putting those two things together showed us there was a need we had to address.”

Scotiabank is also providing its leaders with training around mental-health awareness and support. As well, the bank will host an internal global event for people managers to help them improve their one-on-one conversations with employees to be better coaches and supportive leaders of their team.

“One of the most important relationships for employees in the work environment is with their manager,” says Cole-Morgan. “We wanted to make sure these managers were equipped to spot mental-health risks and warning signs in their employees, but to also have a conversation to reduce the stigma around mental health. That’s a barrier keeping many employees from seeking help.”

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