How Your Mental Health Benefits Can Cover Your Employees' Kids, Too
Today, many employers take steps to help their employees experiencing mental health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that mental health disorders affect nearly one in every five U.S. adults in 2016.1
The CDC also points out that the workplace is a key location for people to get help. Workplace wellness programs, by design, identify, treat and prevent common mental health problems. What about the kids of employees? How does their mental health impact parents in the workforce, and what can employers do to help?
Mental Health Problems Are a Family Affair
There is a clear connection between the mental health of parents and that of their children. Caring for children is stressful even when they have good mental, emotional and developmental health. Caring for children with mental health problems creates challenges for parents, especially if they lack proper resources and support.
Parents with a sick child may:
- Miss work more often
- Have low productivity
- Endure more stress than normal
- Have their mental health challenges like stress, anxiety, and depression
It’s a cycle that affects the whole family. The CDC reports that one in every 14 children aged 0–17 years has a parent with poor mental health.2 Those children were more likely to have poor general health, a mental, emotional, or developmental disability, adverse childhood experiences such as exposure to violence or family disruptions such as divorce, and to live in poverty.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Employees are getting proactive when it comes to the mental health of their employees. Many offer mental health assessment tools and counseling. Employers are stepping up to support their employees with wellness programs that could extend to their children, as well.
Read Wellness at Work: Adjusting Your Benefits Program for a Changed America >
How Employers Can Help
An excellent place to start is by helping parents understand what help is available to them. If employers offer mental health services to their employees, make them aware that they cover their family, including the children. They should incorporate that communication into the training programs and open enrollment information.
They can also make any wellbeing benefits available to children too, including:
- Telehealth therapy
- Well-being apps
- Confidential assessments
Managers can actively promote employee assistance programs and let employees know who can take part. They should make enrollment to these programs easy to do directly through human resources, too. The information about the program, including applications, should also mention family members and their benefits.
Comprehensive wellness and mental health benefits are not complete unless they include the children of employees. Behind every depressed child is a stressed-out parent. So, many go without treatment, which may be part of the rising rates of suicide among your people. In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death in people ages 13 to 19 years.3 Employers can help by extending mental health benefits for their employees to children, as well.
This blog is up to date as of October 2021 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.