The Co-operators Group Ltd. is expanding its mental-health support for employees by increasing its annual coverage of mental-health services to $5,000 a year per family member.

It’s also expanding the number of eligible practitioners covered by its plan, beyond psychologists and social workers to include family therapists, clinical counsellors and psychotherapists. The company is also introducing a new mental-health care product for group plan sponsors, which includes higher annual limits, more eligible practitioners, employee assistance programs and early intervention services.

Read: Sounding Board: Options to help fill the gaps in accessing mental-health care

“The facts are compelling,” said Rob Wesseling, president and chief executive officer of the Co-operators, in a news release. “We know that one in five Canadians will experience a psychological health problem or illness in any given year, making mental health the No. 1 cause of disability in Canada. As an employer and group benefits provider, we see firsthand the impact mental illness is having on Canadians.

“The resulting absenteeism, disability costs and loss of productivity impacts our economy by as much as $51 billion per year,” he added. “Supporting mental health is the right thing to do and the Co-operators is committed to providing innovative access to customizable care, so that our employees have access to the care they need, where and when they need it as they cope with these health concerns.”

In addition to the enhanced mental-health benefits, the Co-operators is also expanding its bereavement policy, allowing up to 20 paid days off after the loss of a child or spouse. It’s also looking into online cognitive behavioural therapy and consultation services to offer second opinions on mental-health issues.

Read: Tackling stigma key to Co-operators’ award-winning mental-health efforts

“We have always supported health and wellness at the Co-operators, but our increased focus on mental health has helped reduce stigma and create a more open and safe workplace culture,” said Bernie Mitchell, senior vice-president of human resources at the company. “Our goal is to ensure that employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health in the same way they would their physical well-being. We want the workplace to be the pathway to positive mental health.”

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

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