Why Employers Are Recognizing the Mental Health of Workers’ Children

Working parents are overwhelmed at work and worried about the pandemic’s effect on their children’s mental health. Here’s how employers can help.

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Why Employers Are Recognizing the Mental Health of Workers' Children

Here's what you need to know:

  • There are many ways that organizations can support the mental health and well-being of employees and their families
  • Benefits that employers can provide include telehealthcare services, flexible work schedules, and increased team size
  • Companies can also offer mental healthcare for the entire family and connections to support groups and resources
  • Employees and their families also benefit from employee assistance programs and additional PTO

Employee benefits often extend to a worker’s family — including children. And these family-oriented benefits are needed more than ever.

Working parents are spread too thin in an era of high inflation, increased workloads, and economic uncertainty. In a recent survey, 72% of parents reported that their children suffered from a decline in well-being and 68% said they noticed behavioral changes.

Coupled with the astronomical cost of healthcare, many parents are hoping for mental health services that will help their children readjust to the new normal.

But while over half of working parents are pursuing mental health services for their children, only 23% felt comfortable speaking about this issue with HR.

The good news is that employers can help. Employers can boost retention and morale by investing in mental health resources for workers’ children.

Current issues in children’s mental health

Before we get into the types of employee benefits and mental health resources employers can extend to an employee’s child, let’s look at the mental health problem today:

  • 40% of children experience anxiety
  • 30% suffer from depression
  • 30% struggle with behavioral health
  • ADHD is something 30% manage

There are a number of reasons children need more mental health services than before. The pandemic exposed children to social isolation, the deaths of family and friends, and feelings of uncertainty.

There are many ways to improve mental and behavioral health outside of healthcare benefits.

However, these aren’t the only struggles. Children and adolescents may also face bullying, economic uncertainty at home, or fear of active shooters.

As a result, mental healthcare is critical to supporting working parents. However, there are many ways to improve mental and behavioral health outside of healthcare benefits.

8 child-centered employee benefits companies can offer

There are a number of benefits that help employees and their children cope with mental illness and recover from social isolation. But not all of them are directly related to child healthcare.

These 8 recommendations highlight the different ways — big and small — that organizations can show support for employees and their families.

1. Telehealthcare services

Telehealthcare as a mental health benefit has seen positive results among working parents and their children. In fact, 86% of employees reported that their children benefited from the experience and 78% said they saw improvement in their children’s behavioral health.

While telehealth services cannot replace a pediatrician or a psychiatrist if your child needs medication, it works great for talk therapy.

As an employer, it doesn’t work to just give a recommendation to a telehealthcare provider. Ask your health insurance company which providers are covered under your current employee plan.

2. Flexible work schedules

One way to help employees and provide more time for child care is to offer work-from-home or flexible work arrangements. This includes allowing employees to bring their children to work, or simply allowing them to skip the office commute when needed.

Working mothers, in particular, are 32% less likely to leave their job if they can work from home.

Given the nature of online work, many employees don’t need to be in the workplace full-time. And more time spent with children can help improve mental wellness and reduce stress.

3. Increased team size

Sometimes parents are simply trying to fulfill too many roles. Despite the decline in unemployment at the end of 2021, half of employees said their organization was understaffed.

Expanding the team to reduce the workload can help parents reduce stress. This, in turn, can create a healthier home environment as parents have time and energy to decompress and spend time with their children.

4. Mental healthcare for the entire family

Offering mental healthcare benefits and resources for the entire family, not just the employee or child, is another way to address mental wellness at home and at the workplace.

Sometimes it’s not your employee who needs additional mental support — it may be their spouse or another dependent. Often stress from these close relationships filters into the workplace and can give employees and their children additional stress and anxiety.

Thus, providing a mental health plan that supports the entire family can help resolve home conflicts and improve overall wellness.

5. Support groups and resources

Providing mental health resources and support group information for struggling employees can help them to find professionals and support outside the workplace. Some organizations that provide support are:

Many faith groups also offer free support groups, 12-step programs, and mental health services. Consider reviewing the free offerings in your area and add them to an employee resource packet.

6. Child care benefits

Another way to support children’s mental health is through providing access to child care. Over the past 20 years, the cost of child care has doubled. In 2016, the annual price tag for having 2 children in child care was $18,000, and that number is likely far higher now.

And employees are stressed about it. In one study, less than half of respondents said they believed their employer cared about child care.

Employers can offer onsite child care or stipends to help cover the cost of nearby care programs. Providing access to a safe place for children while your employee works can help support mental wellness.

7. Employee assistance programs

An employee assistance program (EAP) offers a number of benefits and resources for employees that might meet their mental health needs and reduce stress. The problem is that less than 10% use it — most likely because they don’t know what an EAP is or what it offers.

Common EAP services include financial planning, college counseling, childcare services, and mental health professional recommendations, but there are many other use cases. At their core, these assistance programs are meant to provide support and guidance to employees throughout their life and career journey.

If your organization offers an EAP and it’s clearly underutilized, consider offering brief training to employees. Describe what an EAP is, what services are included, and how they can access the program.

8. Additional PTO

Sometimes workers just need some extra days off to work on a mental health problem or recover from burnout. Offering additional PTO days gives parents more time with their children to work on a solution for anxiety, depression, or another mental health need.

You may even want to label these extra PTO benefits as “mental health days” so employees know that it’s OK to take a day off due to stress or burnout.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

Answer to see the results

How organizations can improve employee relations

The fact is, money isn’t everything. Organizations that take the time to communicate with and understand their employees’ needs will inspire loyalty and create a stronger workforce.

Of course, there is no 1 benefit or perk alone that will optimize employee relations. HR professionals and small business owners must consider benefits as a part of a comprehensive retention strategy.

For more insights, check out these free guides for a healthier workplace:

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