With the concept of corporate wellness programs being relatively new, many organizations struggle when it comes to selecting program offerings. Outside of employee feedback and satisfaction surveys, it can be difficult to put a finger on the exact wellness benefits that produce tangible outcomes for both the participants and their organizations.
As a result, many companies default to the physical, more obvious options--like gym reimbursement (not saying that's a bad thing).
As wellness programs evolve, so is the research on the associated mental side effects. In an article published last month, specialists from Bangor University and the University of St. Gallen, analyzed data collected through the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) -- the BHPS is a collection of observations, characteristics, and decisions of thousands of men and women over the course of 13 years. What they found was that individuals suffering from mental health issues like stress, experience decreases in productivity and, as a result, suffer economically as well.
However, if the individual sought help and consulted a psychotherapist (those who treat mental illness with psychological rather than medical means), the adverse effects of mental illness and stress were counterbalanced. In fact, the research found that men and women who received therapy saw an income increase of 13 percent and 8 percent respectively.
Back when I was playing football, my coaches always told me that the game was 80 percent mental, and 20 percent everything else. I'm not sure of the exact breakdown, but regardless, the point remains that in sports, life, and work a sound mind is just as much if not more important than a healthy body. Your head has to be in the game.
If organizations are looking to provide wellness perks with immediate impact and tangible results, then psychotherapy, or other forms of mental wellness offerings like meditation, are good options. Especially, since one in five adults experiences mental illness every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
I'm not unrealistic -- I know psychotherapy isn't cheap. Although it's relative, one source estimates that it could be as high as $300 per session--which are typically an hour. If your organization is not in a position to offer the most progressive wellness benefits, then you can bridge the gap with other solutions. Without getting too deep in the weeds, multiple studies show that meditation, for example, can improve job satisfaction and performance, decrease stress and anxiety, and even reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In my experience, it's the stigmatism and judgment that prevents most from pursuing help with mental illnesses.
In those cases, organizations can make a difference by educating and encouraging employees to focus on their mental well-being just as much as their physical wellness. It may also be possible to contract a workplace therapist, offer an employee assistance program or hotline, subsidize the cost for employees, leverage telemedicine, or develop a caregiver leave policy that provides time and support for employees seeking help.
Corporate wellness programs are becoming a mainstream strategy for enhancing employee productivity and managing employee health and well-being. With each new report, we get closer to providing sure-fire benefits to help employees reduce fatigue and stress, and boost performance.
If your organization is open to new wellness offerings, psychotherapy, or other forms of mental wellness, are worth the consideration.