Depression and alcoholism are the leading mental health and substance abuse conditions covered by employers, according to a report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The survey, which polled nearly 300 Canadian and American organizations, found 84 per cent of employers cover depression and 82 per cent cover alcohol addiction. Anxiety disorders (78 per cent), prescription drug addiction (77 per cent) and non-prescription drug addiction (72 per cent) rounded out the top five.

More than half (60 per cent) of organizations cited an increase in mental illness and substance abuse compared to 2016, while 40 per cent said their employees are very or extremely stressed.

Read: Half of Canadians view depression as a disability: poll

“Employers are becoming increasingly mindful of the mental health and substance abuse challenges their workers might be dealing with, as evidenced by the fact that almost all of our responding organizations report offering benefits to help with these conditions,” said Julie Stich, associate vice-president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, in a press release. “Many organizations have analyzed claims data, introduced alternative pain management treatments and started using prescription drug monitoring programs. Employers recognize the severe impact of these conditions on both worker well-being and cost to their businesses — and are doing something about it.”

Acccording to the survey, employers also cover bipolar disorder (72 per cent), eating disorders (62 per cent), post-traumatic stress disorder (62 per cent), ADD/ADHD (56 per cent) and autism (50 per cent).

“Moving forward, organizations should be sensitive to potential barriers to offering mental health and substance abuse benefits,” said Stich. “Many workers fear that admitting a problem may negatively impact their job security, and some have concerns about confidentiality. Certain workers may not even know they have a problem or aren’t ready to address it. It’s important for employers to communicate the availability of benefits and other resources available to help. Through this communication and by providing coverage, employers are making the right moves in creating a psychologically safe workplace.”

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

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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