This is a guest blog post from Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc. We’re on a mission to help working Canadians promote and protect their health. wealth, and happiness, by delivering benefits by design.

Employee mental health has been a hot topic since before the pandemic, which only made things worse. And according to the 2022 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey, 77% of employees feel the help they get from their employer to manage their mental health is only somewhat effective or not effective at all. 

Employers have heard the call though, and are looking at how they can support their employees with mental health programs. There are many components, and different parts of your employee benefits plan, as well as perks and activities, all need to come together to form a comprehensive employee mental health program.

De-stigmatize Mental Health

Start by normalizing the conversation around mental health. If leadership is comfortable, having them share their own experiences and struggles with mental health can go a long way towards showing employees that their own mental health struggles are nothing to be ashamed of. 

Placing different resources and mental health reminders around the workplace can also help as well. Mental health is an ongoing journey, just like our physical fitness or education journeys. And the more we hear and see that, the easier it is for people to acknowledge where they might be along their own mental health journey.

Encourage Ongoing Discussions

Having an open dialogue, both casually and during specific activities can allow people to feel safe about opening up. Or at least to feel okay about utilizing other mental health services privately. Some people will never be comfortable sharing with others, and that is absolutely fine. But just the fact that it is being discussed can encourage them to take action.

The Not Myself Today program ran by the Canadian Mental Health Association is a great tool for accomplishing this.

Offer Vacation and PTO 

Employees who are allowed the time to rest and recharge come back more engaged and productive. It’s important to make sure that they have adequate coverage to go on vacation, as the mental health break that is reaped over the break shouldn’t be overshadowed by returning to a mountain of overdue work. 

And gone are the days when employers should be asking for sick notes. True Personal Time Off (PTO) is just that, and people should be able to use their “sick days” to give their mental health a breath of air if that is what they choose.

Provide an EAP

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides different services to help employees with all sorts of life’s struggles. And our mental health can be affected by all of them. From financial worries to legal questions, familial issues, and more, an EAP can connect employees with resources, legal advice or even counselling if needed.  

Paramedical Services

Speaking of counselling, the paramedical services within an extended health care benefit usually cover registered clinical counsellors and psychologists. And many plans have recently increased the annual maximum for these specific practitioners. 

A Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) can also be used to cover these types of costs, which allows employees the flexibility to utilize their allocation amounts on any type of medical expense, for those that may not need counselling.

Telemedicine and Mental Wellness Apps

For employees who aren’t comfortable seeing someone in person, there are many new options they can access via their mobile devices and/or computers. 

·       Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

·       Online therapy and counselling sessions

·       Personal, live coaches or therapists connected through online apps such as Tranquility.


Make mental health just as important as physical health. If you offer healthy foods and snacks in the office or at your worksite, try offering guided meditation sessions occasionally. Each of us is unique and has different experiences, therefore we all have different ways of looking at situations. This means there is no one size fits all when it comes to our mental health, and as such, a mental health program should provide a variety of ways for employees to protect their mental health.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment, taxation, legal vary accordingly. Please seek legal, accounting and human resources counsel from qualified professionals to make certain your legal/accounting/compliance interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.