A recent survey by LifeWorks Inc. found 25 per cent of Canadian employees are experiencing increased tension or conflict at work. The surveyed employees aged 40 and younger noted they were experiencing this 80 per cent more than workers aged 50 or older. And managers reported a lower mental-health score than non-managers. Stress from workload, finances and work-life balance all impact your employees – leading to burn-out.

Employee stress impacts your organization’s health. Have you seen the clues? Take a look at how your employees are performing at work. Are they really focused on their job? Do they seem anxious? Are they arriving late, taking sick days frequently or leaving early? As an HR professional you may not be an expert in mental health management and may be missing the signs that your employees are under stress and how that stress is impacting your organization.

Health insurance can help keep your business healthy

The 2023 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey notes that fifty-one per cent of employees covered by an employer health plan said they understand their health benefits plan extremely or very well, which is down from 65% in 2018 when this question was last asked. That means they may understand how their health benefits can assist them when under stress.

Unfortunately, just over a third (38%) of employees only understand their employer provided health coverage somewhat well and 11% do not understand their plan at all.

When feeling stress and burnout, too often an employee’s experience in getting support is challenging, especially when it comes to navigating our complex health-care system.

As a professional focused on employee well-being, you can fill this gap by helping members understand all of the resources available, both through public health care and their group health benefit plan.

Here are some of the ways your health insurance plan for employees can help support their mental and physical health (and your organization).

Coverage for Professional / Registered Therapists

While treatment from a general practitioner will usually not cost an employee anything, expenses for other therapy (including individual, marriage and family therapy, or addiction counselling) can really add up. Counselling provided by a psychologist or social worker can help an employee think about their problems differently and give them ways to manage — and usual and customary fees charged can be covered under the health insurance you provide, up to a plan maximum covered per year.


Many individuals find that prescription medication decreases their suffering from stress and improves their quality of life. Health benefits can cover costs for a wide variety of prescription drugs. Employees value the coverage and ease of taking their health benefit plan card to the pharmacist, avoiding some out-of-pocket costs.

Alternative Therapies

When it comes to improving an employee’s overall well-being in mind, body, and spirit, they may consider alternative therapies. Naturopathic doctors, Swedish and shiatsu massage performed by registered therapists, and eastern-based acupuncture are just some of the options individuals choose. These services are not covered by their government health plan and the employee will be charged a fee, which may be partly covered by the health insurance you provide. Chiropractic adjustments are often sought to help release muscle tension, and chiropractors can offer relaxation techniques to help patients manage stress. Like coverage for other registered therapists, the dollar amount covered per visit and the annual combined maximum benefit will be outlined in your health insurance plan.

Additional Plan Benefits

Let employees know if their health plan contains “built-in” tools to help them learn new ways to deal with the expected and unexpected in life:

  • Mindfulness tools that help individuals connect with the moment instead of reliving past regrets or worrying about the future
  • Access to virtual care for secure medical consultations with friendly, knowledgeable clinicians on their mobile smartphone or tablet by text or video chat whenever and wherever they need it
  • Motivational programs to help them focus and achieve their health goals, including digital therapy
  • Easy-to-use search tools to help them find a doctor, health facility, or community support group in their area

The health benefits you provide and connect employees to can be critical to returning your team to wellness. If your health plan lacks any of these benefits, an individual health plan can top-up coverage to help fill the gap and is a fantastic option for part time or contract or seasonal workers who do not qualify for your group coverage.

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