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November 11, 2021

WG ASSURANCE TRUST: Prioritizing Mental Health in the Post-Pandemic Workplace

Life changed in many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers find themselves continuing to make adjustments for the post-pandemic workplace. As we move forward, many organizations are taking an opportunity to re-evaluate and reshape their health benefits and prioritize mental health for their employees. Investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business, and employers can make mental health a priority and make support accessible to everyone who needs it.

An estimated 57 percent of senior leaders in the U.S. are assigning a higher priority to care benefits to better support employees’ work-life balance, according to a report from the Harvard Business Review. One of the reasons is that mental health has a huge impact on medical and pharmacy costs, and employers want to address these rising costs by taking preventive measures.

The good news is that employers who offer mental health support for employees see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health, according to research from the National Safety Council and the National Opinion Research Center. When employees are happy and healthy, it improves workplace productivity, decreases absenteeism, attracts and retains top talent, and improves employee morale.

The Cost of Depression

  • Depression cases among adults jumped from 7 percent to 30.2 percent over the length of the pandemic (Household Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Depression causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year and costs employers $17 billion to $44 billion annually (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Full-time employees in the U.S. with depression miss nearly twice as many work days each year (Gallup)
  • Essential workers were two times more likely than non-essential workers to have been diagnosed with a mental-health disorder since the beginning of the pandemic (American Psychological Association)

Next Steps for Employers

As we enter the post-pandemic phase, there has never been a better opportunity than now to introduce programs that support employees’ mental health. At Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT), we collaborate with Pinnacle Health Management (PHM) to offer an Uplift: Overcoming Depression program that provides additional mental health support for our members. Participants who are enrolled in the program can better understand depression, along with its signs, symptoms, treatment, and support options. They also receive supportive resources, including monthly coping tools, curriculum-guided phone calls, and collaborative goal-setting.

For employers interested in furthering their health and wellness offerings, they can obtain a Wellness Program add-on, which includes quarterly challenges, wellness toolkits, and other educational materials, such as newsletters on popular health topics and customized reports at the end of each wellness challenge.

Wellness challenges have included the “Rest and Revive Challenge,” a mental health challenge that promotes positive emotional wellbeing through preventing and managing stress, and the “Step Up Challenge,” a walking challenge to improve the general health of employees through daily movement.

Our other health management programs include support for other conditions, including asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, weight management, depression and diabetes. These programs are included with every WGAT health plan purchased.

If you don’t have a WGAT plan, contact Western Growers Insurance Services for more information and to see how it can help you better manage your health care costs. You can reach a sales team member at (800) 333-4WGA.