Manulife lowers STD claims with mental-health benefits boost

Manulife Financial Corp.’s short-term disability claims related to mental health have decreased since it boosted its benefits to employees last year.

In January 2017, Manulife increased its mental-health benefit, from $1,000 to $10,000 per person per year, including coverage for family members.

“Really the goal of that was to remove any financial barriers, real or perceived, that employees and their families may have to seeking care,” says Maria Fraga, head of global benefits and wellness for Manulife.

Read: Manulife boosts mental-health benefits for staff to $10,000 per year

The enhanced benefit also aimed to reduce disability claims and absenteeism, improve employee’s financial security, increase productivity, quality of life and satisfaction and help employees return to work, according to Fraga.

“When we look at employees returning to work, again with the diagnosis of mental health, we’re seeing some extremely good results there, and our rates have gone from 55 per cent to 86 per cent of our employees returning to work,” she says.

Manulife has also received positive feedback from employees about the program, particularly on its internal social media site. 

Read: 85% of Canadians agree mental-health services are underfunded: survey

While Manulife typically provides mental-health awareness programming in May, it will host some webinars for employees in October, according to Fraga. The May programs, she says, focus on bringing in experts to the office, running webinars and offering opportunities for stress reduction through meditation or mindfulness.

As far as the organization’s future mental-health strategy, Fraga says the plan is to stay the course, since the current plan is seeing such positive results. However, she notes, Manulife continuously evaluates its strategy and programming.

Read: Improving employee mental health among top HR priorities for 2019