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Employees Looking to Employers for Help Coping

Coming out of the pandemic, more workers are experiencing mental health challenges including anxiety, difficulty managing stress, depression, relationship or family conflicts, grief or loss, alcohol or substance abuse, thoughts of suicide or other mental health conditions.

According to LIMRA research, 75% of workers say they have experienced at least one mental health challenge either “sometimes” or “often” during the past year, with 37% struggling with mental health issues “often.”


The research shows the mental health crisis is even more prominent among the younger generations, with 91% of Gen Z workers saying they have struggled with mental health issues at least “sometimes” during the past year, while 62% struggled “often.”

Beyond the negative effects on employee well-being, mental health struggles can be an issue for employers as they are associated with decreased workplace productivity and increased absenteeism and presenteeism. In addition, according to the mental health services provider ComPsych, employee leaves of absence for mental health issues are up a staggering 300% from 2017 to 2023. A leave of absence, ComPsych noted, can vary from a few days to weeks.

In addition, the research indicated that employees who face mental health challenges are less inclined to stay with their current employers, impacting workplace turnover.

Most workers expressed interest in having their employers provide benefits or resources to help them cope with mental, emotional, or behavioral health challenges. Almost half of the workers surveyed (49%) said they are “very” or “extremely” interested in these, while only 11% are not interested at all.

Interest in mental health benefits is particularly high among younger workers, Black and Hispanic employees, members of the LGBTQ+ community, more educated workers, and those with higher job levels.


Employers looking to offer more benefits in support of mental health have a variety of potential offerings to choose from and will want to prioritize those benefits that provide the most value to employees.

Of possible offerings, workers express the most desire for paid time off to deal with stress or mental health issues.

“This points to a demand for ‘mental health days,’ but this need might also be addressed through short-term disability insurance under some circumstances,” says Kim Landry, associate research director, LIMRA Workplace Benefits Research. “There is also a lot of interest for access to free or discounted counseling/therapy sessions or to have mental health appointments covered by health insurance with no cost-sharing, which indicates that employees are primarily looking for help with the time and cost of dealing with mental health issues.”

The study found about 3 in 10 workers are interested in benefits that help pay for treatment at an inpatient or outpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment facility, such as a hospital indemnity plan might do. One quarter are also interested in a benefit that provides a lump sum payment upon the diagnosis of a mental/emotional health condition, such as a critical illness product might offer.


There is clearly a significant need for mental health benefits. Employers that want to help workers and their businesses should be looking for benefit solutions to support employee mental health, as well as carriers that are working to introduce new offerings to address this demand. May marks Mental Health Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues, as well as highlight the ways in which mental illness and addiction can affect all of us.

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