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Companies Are Increasing Mental Health Benefits

Companies Are Increasing Mental Health Benefits

May 12, 2021
Walmart, an employer of 1.5 million in the U.S., is offering 10 counseling sessions to employees and their families.

When I was growing up, as GE went so did the nation.

Well, times have changed and now it’s as Walmart goes, so does the nation.

As one of the largest U.S. employers at 1.5 million, the company often sets the stage for policies, both in terms of business processes and workforce strategies. In the area of mental well-being, Walmart announced May 5 that it has expanded its mental health benefits by more than tripling (from three sessions per year to 10 sessions)  the number of no-cost counseling sessions that will be available to U.S. associates and their families.

The “emotional well-being” benefit, as the company calls it, includes help dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, personal and professional relationships, family conflict, substance abuse, coping with change, parenting and more.

Citing a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 40% of U.S. adults had reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse over a period of 30 days in a September 2020 survey, Lisa Woods, vice president of physical and emotional well-being, explained why Walmart was taking this action. “The unprecedented global events of the past year impacted our lives in ways many of us couldn’t have imagined. These events put an emphasis on how critical it truly is to care for our emotional well-being.”

Walmart is not alone in increasing mental health services to employees as a result of COVID-19. A survey by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions reported that 53% of the companies they spoke to were providing special emotional and mental health programs for their workforce because of the pandemic

Starbucks, which employs 191,000 in the U.S., stands out as a frontrunner in this category as it announced April 6 that it will now offer 20 free counseling sessions a year to employees and their families.

 “Mental health is a fundamental part of our humanity, and these resources will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and help break the stigma around this complex issue,”  said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in an announcement March 16. 

Other companies are also offering a variety of mental health resources. Target and Salesforce employees, for example, will receive free access to apps that help manage stress and sleep, according to Business Insider.

In recognizing the importance of offering assistance to employees in dealing with mental health, companies are building stronger cultures. That, in turn, helps build a healthier workforce.

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