Mental health increasingly on Canadian employers’ radars: survey

Almost all employers offer paramedical benefits for psychology and many are adopting programs to support employee mental health, according to a new survey by Aon.

Canadian employers are increasingly realizing the individual and business risks that arise from mental-health issues. “While fewer than half of the employers we talked to identified mental health as a serious business risk now, a much larger proportion foresee it developing into one over the next five years,” said Kim Siddall, vice-president of health solutions at Aon, in a news release. “They are already taking steps to address that developing risk.”

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For instance, many plan sponsors are now isolating their psychology benefit maximums from other paramedical ceilings and are covering a broader range of practitioners, including family therapists, social workers and clinical counsellors, she said. “All this points to a growing realization among employers that they will have to do more to support workplace mental health in the future.”

Three-quarters (73 per cent) of employers surveyed said they currently provide psychology maximums on a stand-alone basis, as opposed to lumped in under the maximum for other paramedical benefits.

The survey found the most common paramedical psychology maximum offered is between $500 and $1,000. However, this is higher among financial services and technology firms, with typical maximums falling within a range of $1,000 to $5,000.

According to the survey, the top five non-benefits-related supports for workplace mental health are employee assistance programs, physical health promotion, personal finance or debt counselling, addiction counselling and self-help sessions on topics like stress or time management.

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