Mental Health in the Workplace

It has been reported that 1 in 5 Canadians are coping with mental illness, including depression, stress and anxiety.  The challenges of everyday life can put a strain on both our personal and professional lives and be detrimental to our overall wellbeing.  As we spend the majority of our day at our workplace, employers are becoming more aware that they need to help employees to ensure they are happy and productive.   

One way that employers can help their employees is to implement an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).  An EFAP can provide employees with the support they need in order to help  cope with mental health issues, which are the leading cause of conflict at work, absence, and short and long-term disability.

EFAPs provide a range of benefits in support of mental health issues including the following:

  • Short term counselling with designated professionals
  • Services offered to both employees and their families
  • Confidentiality
  • Reduced incidence of short and long term disability claims
  • Positive impact on health care claims
  • Reduced absenteeism and increased productivity
  • Manager training on how to support employees
  • Workplace wellness programs which can include education sessions, exercise challenges and financial assistance information

Offering an EFAP to employees not only helps improve the lives of those dealing with difficult mental health issues, but we are now starting to see the link between these positive results and the very real cost savings for employers.

A new research study, "Investigating the Global Value of a Canadian Employee Assistance Program," found significant improvements in individuals with access to an EFAP.  Prior to entering an EFAP, 66% of the study participants reported having moderate, severe or extremely severe problems with stress, anxiety or depression, resulting in performance issues that produced an economic loss for employers.  Three months after completing the counselling program, less than 32% fell into these same categories.

Mental health issues do not discriminate based on age or gender and there continues to be stigma attached to mental health.  Recognizing the impact of these issues on employees and providing them with the tools to help support them, can be beneficial to both employers and their employees.

If you have questions or would like to discuss the options for implementing an EFAP, please contact your Benefits Consultant.