With the holidays upon us and a New Year approaching, many Americans are preparing to make resolutions regarding exercise, weight, smoking, and overall physical health, among others. Having survived many life changes over the last couple of years, many people are also looking specifically to enhance their mental health and well-being.
Mental Health Resolutions
In a recent Forbes poll, 45% of all respondents ranked achieving better mental health among their top resolutions. By age group, 50% of those between 18-25 years old, 49% between 26-41, and 39% between ages 42-57 said that they intend to prioritize mental health in their resolutions for 2023.
Examples of mental health resolutions might include:
- Consistent, adequate sleep: Quality sleep habits may help to reduce feelings of depression.
- Meditation: Regular meditation practice may help relieve and control stress.
- Journaling: Many people find that writing about their worries and stresses help them process these better and gain the ability to focus on other things.
- Gratitude practice: Undertaking a daily practice of thinking about the good things in your life can improve emotional well-being, help cope with stress, and improve physical health as well.
Self-Care and Mental Health
Self-care is when a person takes the time to do things that help them live well and improve their mental and physical well-being. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that while self-care is not a cure, understanding the sources of symptoms and related coping techniques are a big plus in achieving better health.
In their 2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported that 44% of surveyed employers include self-care apps in their benefits packages. Another option is for employers to offer Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs). These employer-funded benefit accounts can cover virtually any expense, including self-care apps, meditation classes, fitness memberships, and more.
Better yet, LSAs can start at any time during the calendar year. Employers who are interested in possibly offering an LSA for 2023 still have plenty of time to do so. Other than what the employer sets, there are no regulations requiring specific plan year dates or enrollment periods for LSAs, as there are for other benefit accounts.
Benefit Accounts and Mental Health
The KFF survey also reported employer concerns about meeting employee mental health needs. Nearly half (48%) of large employers surveyed are experiencing an increase in employees seeking mental health services. In addition, 43% report being somewhat concerned with employee substance abuse. Compounding these concerns, 52% of surveyed employers think there are not enough providers in healthcare networks to provide timely access to care.
Employer-sponsored health plans may include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but these are often intended to serve only short-term needs that can be addressed in a couple of sessions. Employees dealing with long-term struggles or needing support in between sessions may require additional resources.
In addition to healthcare coverage, those resources may include benefit accounts. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and some Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) all typically cover many out-of-pocket expenses related to mental health, including counseling and therapy services, psychiatric services, and addiction treatment.
Employers focused on providing more support for employee mental health and well-being will find powerful tools among the benefit accounts offered by their benefits TPA, including LSAs, FSAs, HSAs, and HRAs.