Mental-health benefits offerings are on the rise, with the share of Canadian organizations that provide mental-health coverage nearly doubling over the past five years, according to a new survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The survey, released this week to coincide with World Mental Health Day, found more than three-quarters (79 per cent) of employers currently offer mental-health coverage for their employees, with 70 per cent reporting it as one of their most costly conditions to cover. About half (52 per cent) said it’s been their largest health-care cost increase over the past five years.

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“Our society as a whole is increasingly more aware of the prevalence of mental-health issues and that way of thinking is making its way into the workplace,” said Julie Stich, vice-president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. “Workplace guidelines in place by the Mental Health Commission of Canada have provided further support for advancing this issue on a national level.”

The top offerings for mental-health initiatives in Canadian workplaces include:

  • Employee assistance programs — 88 per cent;
  • Mental-health coverage — 79 per cent;
  • Substance abuse treatment coverage/benefits — 41 per cent;
  • Mental-health educational/informational sessions in the workplace — 41 per cent;
  • Mental-health first aid training — 31 per cent;
  • Mental-health assessment included in health risk assessments — 26 per cent; and
  • On-site mindfulness/meditation classes — 23 per cent.

Read: Specific solutions required to move dial on mental-health treatment, costs

The survey also found 76 per cent of employers listed stress as the top issue negatively affecting workplace productivity. However, many organizations are at work successfully reducing stress levels.

“At this point, it seems as though workplaces have not found the exact solution for helping workers with stress levels,” said Stich. “Almost 70 per cent of organizations report that their efforts have been somewhat effective in reducing work-related stress, but only two per cent reported ‘very effective’ results.”

Despite this, the survey found most organizations said they plan to either increase (69 per cent) or maintain (30 per cent) their emphasis on mental-health offerings over the next two years.

Read: Workplace mental-health training on the rise: Sanofi survey

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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